Last weekend we had tickets to see "Romeo and Juliet" at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. As part of that, I took Monday off work, and therefore have been behind all week, and thus Saturday is the first chance I have to post about it.
First, let me say that Ashland is beautiful. I'd never been before, but it's just like a painted picture of small-town America. Cute houses, cute shops, friendly people. And with fall really coming in, the colors were starting to change, and there was snow on the mountains. Good stuff.
We went because we know someone in the company and he got us tickets. I'll just leave it at that to protect his privacy and to keep him from being overwhelmed with requests for free tickets. I'll call him Pete for the rest of this post. We went up and stayed in Pete's apartment while he stayed with his girlfriend for the weekend. It was nice to stay in a place with a kitchen and where you can feel comfortable. It helps that we've known him a long time.
But after seeing the play, I can't understand why we waited so long! We're obviously dunderheads, and that's the only explanation. And if you have a chance to go to a play in any of their three theatres, please do so. They've announced the 2008 season already, so pick out the time to go, the plays to see, and get on it already! We will be seeing everything we have time to see next year, because we've been bitten with some kind of bug now.
So, on to the play. We went Sunday night, and all day it was looking like it was going to rain. Two of the three stages are indoors, but the Elizabethan Stage (where R&J was to be) is outdoor. This is neat in a lot of ways, but when it's cold and rainy, it's just sucky for everyone involved. Pete had gotten us tickets in the balcony, so we were covered by the partial roof that is there to help with acoustics. He obviously knew something we wouldn't realize as first-timers -- we hadn't brought all our warmest clothes and raingear. But, as I said, with the roof, we were fine. And I'm not too worried about the folks on the floor -- they all seemed prepared and seemed fine. The actors, however, had to perform in abysmal conditions. The rain started out light, but we were barely into the second scene before they started slipping around on the stage.
They were troopers, but six of them got hurt falling down, and one guy's hearing aid shorted out. That's crazy to expect actors to perform in those sorts of conditions. And I don't want to be at a performance that's just going on because they don't feel they can quit. By the time we got to the morning after bedroom scene with Romeo and Juliet wearing next to nothing under a soaking wet down comforter and wet stringy hair, the play had changed from being about Shakespeare's witty language and action-filled plot. It was about being in awe of these actors and what they were having to deal with. And that's all fine and dandy, but I didn't go to see a test of the human will to persevere. I think that was a different play or something.
All in all, I got a different (better) understanding of parts of the story, and it was wonderful to see it done by experts. As an artistic license thing, they tried to augment the difference between the young and older generation by dressing the old folks in traditional costumes, and the kids in modern-day clothes. Mercutio in a leather jacket and blue jeans was the perfect costume for him, for example. The kids all in school uniforms reminded us that they were really kids, even though Romeo and Juliet were played by mid-20s to early-30s actors.
We will be back. You just won't see us crying over a cancelled play if the weather's bad. Not here. And you should go, too.
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