Daily Archives: July 15, 2004

Catch-Up

Okay — yesterday it was the killer migraine that hit me minutes after we arrived at my parents’ friends’ place for dinner (Dad drove me home, bless him), the day before was a day trip to Stratford, and today was here and there. Otherwise I’d’ve been posting the long reflective entries I’ve been composing in my head for the past seventy-two hours. Honest.
 
I was at the Royal Botanical Gardens for an hour on Tuesday morning, amusing myself in the greenhouse whilst my parents attended a meeting in Conference Room Two (which really ought to have been called TROT-2, but no one would understand the reference except a handful of people back home, so I withheld it). I took reams of notes to turn into a substantial post on herbs and the joys of being alone in huge glass buildings with over two hundred invisible anoles, which I still might do eventually, but I’m just too tired at the moment. (And don’t believe the website write-up; it was humid, not cool and dry.) Besides, I want to get back to Fool’s Fate, which is stunningly fabulous. I finished I, Elizabeth the night I had my migraine, after I’d taken two extra-strength Advil and slept for two hours (oops – there’s a max of three per day, so no wonder it knocked me out). Damned good. Pre-dates the film Elizabeth (you know, that Cate Blanchett one), and really foreshadows the film well in tone, speech, and scene. It was nice to finally hit a book which took more than two hours to read from start to finish.
 
Mum and I saw Guys and Dolls at Stratford, which came as a bit of a culture shock, since I’d been reading I, Elizabeth, and after having experienced so much Elizabethan theatre in the town over the years I always associate Shakespeare plays with a Stratford trip. (And that’s Stratford, ON for my American readers. I can’t quite envision Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK doing Frank Loesser musicals. And t!, the Noretta Motel finally as a new sign.) The show was enjoyable, in spite of Cynthia Dale doing a monotone performance of Sarah Brown. Sarah Brown should be earnest and perky. Cynthia Dale was lukewarm and lifeless. (Which she has apparently been in the past five years she’s been appearing at Stratford. Why do they keep casting her?)  Sheila McCarthy as Adelaide more than made up for the time Dale was onstage, though, and every other lead was phenomenal, paticularly Geordie Johnson as Nathan Detroit. (BTW, Tal, my mother and I have decided that sometime in your life, you have to play Nicely-Nicely Johnson. Just thought you’d like to know.) The choreography to the Gamblers’ Ballet was as impressive as the dancing itself. It’s rare to find a show where the men’s chorus has the knock-out dance numbers; in fact, it’s rare to find a show with practically no female chorus. This ballet had been choreographed so that while there were a dozen guys onstage, there were five different moves going on simultaneously — by two or three men in completely different places. It made for a dynamic overall presentation of the number, seeing that three men were dancing the same steps, but they were each dancing next to someone whose steps were totally different, and next to that second man there was yet someone else dancing something again different. For those of you who know the Festival Theatre, you know that the thrust stage is almost square, but still not huge; group numbers have to be really carefully sequenced. The choreography throughout the entire show was a triumph over space.
 
But every time I think of Cynthia Dale in the show, I think of a cold fish dressed as a Salvation Army sergeant. She would just stand and sing — no emotion, nothing. And in a larger-than-life show like Guys and Dolls, particularly when your co-star is very expressive, that just doesn’t cut it. I rather meanly evaluated her performance and almost said to my mother than I could have done better (and no lie, her singing is about my level of skill, and the gods know I can act better than she does), but I didn’t. If I believed in Purgatory, I’m sure I’d have shaved a few years off.
 
Time to go curl up and read again.