Stratford was wonderful. I'd highly recommend either of the performances we saw, both Cyrano de Bergerac and The Importance of Being Earnest. Colm Feore was brilliant as Cyrano, and I actually cried during the last scene, which is extremely unusual for me in a live theater setting. This was especially impressive, as the director chose not to cut one word of the final scene, and as those of you who are familiar with Cyrano know, it is probably the longest death scene in theater history. It could easily become a parody if not handled in the subtlest manner, and Mr. Feore did that beautifully.
Earnest was hysterical as always. The revelation here was the performance by Brian Bedford as Lady Bracknell. He was spot on, and several of the students we went with (and my own German daughter, S) didn't even realize she was being played by a male actor until the first intermission, when we told them. Ha! It was also fascinating to watch Mike Shara transform from the somewhat dull Christian of the day before to the sparkling, witty Algernon. I'm not saying he gave a dull performance, but again, he did justice to Christian's role.
I also have to acknowledge the fact that given my theater design roots, I was able to see the work of three of my design heroes: Santo Loquasto's sets and Alan Brodie's lighting for Cyrano, and Desmond Heeley's sets and costumes for Earnest. As per their reputations, Loquasto's set was as functional and brilliant as Heeley's work was over-the-top and simply gorgeous. What a total treat with the addition of being able to discuss it competently with C, who now understands the ins and outs of theater design. D has had to listen to me babble about it for years, and he smiles, but has no idea what I'm talking about.
Again, a brilliant time, and if you live nearby and want tickets, go here.
We also enjoyed our sojourn to Stratford. It's a charming town and the walk along the river is lovely. We also found Cafe Balzac, on Ontario Street between Downie and Waterloo, a place after my own heart. It's a fair trade coffee bar, with Mapleton's Organic Ice Cream (the maple crunch was to die for), local baked goods and sandwiches from Sirkel Foods - another local Stratford institution. All I can say was that everything there was wonderful (we returned twice in one day - for coffee and baked goods for breakfast and for ice cream before Earnest), and these lovely pictures by S can give you a sense of the place:
Lastly, a bit of local (Ann Arbor) love:
Gene Alloway, of Motte and Bailey Booksellers (which will surely be a Local Love Friday business, if he's interested - it's a wonderful, independent bookshop), wrote me and asked me to let people know about a culinary book club that will be taking place there (and it's right next to the PFC, so you can stop by there, first). This is what he wrote to me:
The first book is CURRY : TALE OF COOKS & CONQUERORS by Lizzie Collingham. Future books will be Jennifer Lee's FORTUNE COOKIE CHRONICLES and Ian Kelly's COOKING FOR KINGS : THE LIFE OF ANTONIN CAREME, THE FIRST CELEBRITY CHEF. Thereafter the group will have a chance to choose what is next.
The first meeting will be July 15th at 7:30 p.m. here at Motte & Bailey, 212 N. 4th Ave. I will have used copies in nice shape for sale here at the shop, and in selecting the first books I made sure inexpensive used copies were available online for those wishing to buy for themselves as well.
Since the second two books are on my list in any case, I'm very excited about this venture. I know that Kitchen Chick gave a shout out about this in her wonderful blog, as well.