Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Whirl of a week

Where did it go? We spent several wonderful days with a family member at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, seeing excellent plays and enjoying real summer weather. Ashland is a nice little place, at least to visit. Highlights for me included a production of "Hamlet" with Dan Donahue in the eponymous role; this version made me feel as if I never want to see another any time soon. Dan was wonderful, as he has been in about every role we've observed over the years, from comic waiters to this Hamlet, about the most tragic figure in the canon. Oddly, another work I enjoyed thoroughly was a musical, "She Loves Me." The drama notes said it was an early form of "You've Got Mail", which I never saw but did read about, and didn't much like the sound of. The music was good, the actors sang very well, the story was sweet and engaging, and it broke my record of refusing to see old musicals. In stark contrast was "Ruined", set in the wartorn Democratic Republic of Congo. I found it intensely emotional, the story line about a woman running a whorehouse who takes in a girl who is "broken", or "ruined", which meant she had received terrible wounds from being repeatedly raped after being kidnapped by soldiers both rebel and "legitimate"; impossible to tell the difference in such times. This sounds ghastly, and the truth of it is, but the play was wonderful, full of music and life, although some of it is graphic and unsettling. I was skeptical about it being so topical, but it was a worthy experience.
"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" was quite good, albeit requiring patience to get slowed down to the strange, nightmarish pace Tennessee Williams set. Having read his collected short fiction I thought I was prepared, but nothing can really set you up for a live performance. "Twelfth Night" was wonderful as well, and it was the third version I've seen. I had thought beforehand I wouldn't want to see it again, but the actors involved were irresistable. That didn't work for me in "Merchant of Venice" and "Henry IV Part One". Loved the players, they played well, but didn't engage me. I think "Merchant" is a poor play, and I found the history play dull. The kids who went down to the OSF said they liked the adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice", which we didn't see. Almost forgot about the debut performance of a newly commissioned work, "American Night." It was about the immigrant experience. Overall I liked its strange surrealistic aspects, but it was a bit on the light weight side.
We got a few nice hikes in, and the one on the Pacific Crest Trail up on Mount Ashland was a beaut. The wildflower season was late, due to cold weather and late snow, but flowers we don't usually get to see compensated for the lack of some of the standard ones. There was a lovely big patch of yellow lilies - avalanche, or maybe a kind of fawn lily - along a picturesque silvery stream, and some trillium just going pink; blooming myrtle, larkspur galore. Diligent competitors were clearing drifts off the upper reaches of the trail in preparation for next weekend's wilderness marathon, the "S.O.B.", Southern Oregon Outback run. 50K of steepness and altitude with fabulous views, if they bother to look at them.
It was amazing to be dropped into summer, and it appears to have followed us home.


Blogger robin andrea said...

Sounds like a truly wonderful time in Ashland. I've never spent much time there, but always thought it looked like a lovely town for a visit. When it's hot there, it's really really hot!

8:07 AM  
Blogger isabelita said...

robin a, we made it out of there just in time!

3:49 PM  

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