The Lady and the Fan


Oscar Wilde in 1889
Oscar Wilde in 1889 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunday Jul 23rd, 12:30AM EDT: Now at home sipping tea after the longish drive back from Niagara-On-the-Lake for dinner and theatre (or theater, if Murrcan) with the missus.

Every time I see or read a play, I’m amazed at the depth of emotion playwrights can evoke in me. Schaffer’s Equus or Amadeus, in particular, are powerful works; the whole body tenses up as the lights and sound flash by in my head.

I’ve always admired Captain Bluntschli, Raina’s chocolate cream soldier, for his charm, his confidence and sheer good sense and practicality. Shaw’s Pleasant and Unpleasant plays are all wonderful to read and re-read.

As an idealistic dreamer in college I went through a long drawn phase of reading every play I could find. Stoppard, Ayckbourn, Pinter, Plater, Schaffer, Simon et al. I devoured them all. Samuel French would have shaken my hand if I had actually bought copies instead of borrowing from the British Council library!

Meanwhile, here is a picture of the non-Shakespeare drama selection at Indigo, Canada’s largest bookstore chain.

Indigo's drama selection
Indigo’s drama selection

Evidently Shakespeare is the only real playwright they know and even the great Will only has as much space as the others and a lot of that space is occupied with study guides. So clearly, if you want to buy a copy of a play you’re up the proverbial creek.

Anyway, back to my theatre or theater experiences. A few years ago, I was treated to one of my favorite Oscar Wilde plays, The Importance of being Earnest. That was a lavish and beautiful production, one that Stratford, ON can be proud of. (Justin B – I’d brush under the carpet, if I was Stratford).

Today’s production of Wilde’s darker comedy was lavish in an understated way. I must confess that Lord Darlington failed to impress. In the emotionally chaotic scene with Lady Windermere his passion and his profession of love for lady W died on delivery. She on the other hand came through strong as a young woman tossed first one way and then the other. She was ably supported by strong performances from Mrs Erlynne and Lord W,

All in all a great play and an excellent production.

Later today will be in Toronto for Mousetrap, where Agatha’s cliched and mildly xenophobic/racist characters will run through the usual rounds of misdirection before the climax. We shall see.

Next Tuesday, it’s back to the NOTL for Major Barbara. The Shaw Festival wouldn’t be complete without something from GB himself. Here’s hoping I get to see Stoppard’s Arcadia as well.

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