|Laburnum in June|
Good foot is still needed to go to heaven, but bad foot going to hell is already miles better; it was ever thus, the road to perdition is so much less stony than the way to heavenly bliss.
It was sheer bliss limping to the theatre, though. First to a Live Screening of the National Theatre's performance of Shaw’s Man And Superman and then to Stratford and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Merchant Of Venice. No two plays could be more different. The Merchant with its ‘Bond of Flesh’ plot is truly sinister. It’s a disturbing story, even today, more than 500 years after Shakespeare wrote it - or perhaps particularly today when anti-semitism appears to be on the rise again. Suffice it to say that neither the Jew nor the Christians come out anything other than morally obnoxious.
The stage at the end of the play, taken from the front row.
(We are very fortunate, Jeremy being disabled
gets us excellent seats at reduced prices)
Synopsis:- In the melting pot of Venice, trade is God. With its ships plying the globe, the city opens its arms to all - as long as they come prepared to do business and there is profit to be made.
When the gold is flowing all is well - but when a contract between Bassanio and Shylock is broken, simmering racial tensions boil over.
A wronged father, and despised outsider, Shylock looks to exact the ultimate price for a deal sealed in blood.
Shaw’s Man And Superman is a sharp comedy, philosophical musing and surreal drama, a philosophical comedy of manners, if such a thing exists. A bearded Ralph Fiennes was excellent as John Tanner, who unwillingly accepts guardianship of a sly and manipulative young woman who is out to snare him in marriage. Fiennes rolls across the stage, slightly bent and swaying, apparently propelled by the fountain of his own words. Never once did he falter - there are over 57,000 words in the play and the majority of those are spoken by its intensely loquacious anti-hero. The play lasted the best part of four hours; I was never bored and laughed like a drain.
I have a new crush: it’s Ralph Fiennes; he may be ageing and his hair may be thinning but his triumphant vigour and versatility, not to mention the perfect delivery of his lines, have won me over. It is so refreshing to be able to understand each word; TV actors mumble and stumble through their lines as if they’re ashamed of them.
Finally, let me recommend to all of you who are interested in theatre (and now, opera) to make use of Live Screenings if you have the chance. Most of us can’t get to London, Stratford, Glyndebourne, or even New York - the Met does transmissions - but many of us can see performances locally at vastly reduced cost. The recordings are for the archives, so the actors are on top form. Performances feel intense, you know that all around the world people are watching the same show as you. And as you are seeing the show on a big screen instead of from a cheap seat at the back of the Stalls, you have the added thrill of being the first to notice a fluffed line or an actor corpsing.
We’re off to ‘Julius Cesar’ tonight, which won’t be a bundle of laughs.