. . . starting with a visit to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Marlowe’s play 'Dido Queen of Carthage’ which is based on Virgil’s Aeneid. It is a play of intense human passions.
Fleeing a war-torn Troy, Aeneas is a refugee seeking new roots and a new identity in Europe. Queen Dido is ready to help him when meddling Gods intervene and turn help into an all-consuming love.
The goddess Venus complains that Jupiter has been neglecting her son Aeneas, who has been lost in a storm on his way to found a new Troy in Italy. Jupiter calms the storm, allowing Aeneas to land safely on the North African coast.
Aeneas meets with other surviving Trojans who have been receiving hospitality from Dido, Queen of Carthage. When Aeneas meets Dido, she agrees to supply his ships and he tells her about the fall of Troy.
In order to keep Aeneas safe Venus sends Cupid to make Dido fall in love with Aeneas to stop him resuming the dangerous mission to Italy. Venus and Juno come together to create a storm, forcing Dido and Aeneas into a cave together. There, they declare their feelings for each other and consummate their love.
Meanwhile, preparations are made for the Trojans to depart for Italy. Dido removes the sails from the ships so that they cannot go, although Aeneas denies intending to leave. Dido announces that he will be king of Carthage and they decide to found the new Troy there instead.
Hermes informs Aeneas that he has no choice but to leave as his destiny is in Italy. Aeneas reluctantly agrees and goes to tell Dido. She is horrified and burns everything that reminds her of him. Heartbroken, Dido takes fate into her own hands and kills herself while Aeneas’ s fleet, with him on board, sails for Italy.
I enjoyed the outing very much. No matter how convenient and stress-free live streaming to local cinemas is, a live performance, on stage, in Stratford-upon-Avon, is always a special occasion. There’s nothing like the buzz you get from the collective anticipation of a theatre filled to capacity.
My friends and I have already booked tickets for a series of plays starting from January. Additional excitement will be added to the trips by spotting that we were passing a branch of my favourite supermarket in a town on the way. We stopped on the way home and I indulged in some unnecessary and excessive food shopping, mostly treats and luxuries. OK, so I added a few vegetables to my cart for virtue.
There you are, something to look forward to.
Social life is picking up. I wonder if people round here are psychic? Or perhaps I am giving off more receptive vibes? For the past few weeks I have been very aware of the fact that my loneliness is always more intense at weekends. Beloved and I made something of them and sitting at the table in solitary state, no matter how tempting the food or palatable the wine, there’s none of the warmth of two people in perfect harmony sharing a meal. So I am glad to report that I have a Sunday luncheon invitation for tomorrow! I had an invitation to supper last night and last Sunday I had two invitations: one to drinks before lunch and one to lunch, at two different houses. I will accept every invitation coming my way even those I might have turned down previously. On two occasions recently I met with people whom I liked very much, one of them a brand new acquaintance. Perhaps I’ll write about them presently.
It looks like life might be returning. In one of my prolonged bouts of sitting on the second from bottom step of the stairs in the hall after returning home from a walk with Millie I’ve been asking myself where I think my life might be going. Who am I, now that I am alone? I never did identify myself by my relationship with other people, i.e. wife/mother/grandmother. With Beloved gone there is now nobody who depends on me and, for the time being, I do not depend on anyone either. The latter will eventually change, of course, if I am unlucky. Decrepitude comes to us all in the end. Sans Eyes, sans Teeth, sans Taste, sans Everything, as Shakespeare has it. But not yet.
Finally, the relationship with my daughter has broken down again, for good I think. She won’t say why. Marlowe has a wonderful line spoken by Aeneas to his friend and fellow Trojan about his disappearing mother, Venus:
Stay gentle Venus fly not from thy son
too cruel! why wilt thou forsake me thus?
or in these shades deceiv’st mine eyes so oft?
why talk we not together hand in hand,
and tell our griefs in more familiar terms?
But thou art gone and leav’st me here alone,
to dull the air with my discursive moan.
Strikes me it works the other way round too. Or for anyone left by someone they love. Whichever way, in life or in death.
If I come up with an answer as to how I see my remaining years go I’ll let you know. Does anyone out there ask themselves a similar question?