It’s been a while since my last post; about a month. That’s longer than usual, so I figure that I owe an explanation to any faithful readers. About ten days after the last post, around the time I would have been getting to work on it, Bonnie and I left for a nine day trip back to Sylva/Cullowhee to do some things around our old house which needed doing, like taking some stuff we didn’t move and have decided we are not going to need to Goodwill, etc. That, combined with seeing a few people briefly and running a couple of Asheville errands kept us pretty busy for the five days we had in town. We were exhausted when we finally got back (1000± miles each way, too much for one day, although it CAN be done that way, but the next day you’re not worth anything, anyway).
While we were there, Bonnie also wanted to see the exhibit of Downton Abbey costumes at the Biltmore Estate another time before they move on to somewhere else. The exhibit will be touring around the country until January 2018. I’d strongly suggest that people try to see it, especially if they have ANY interest in English dress from the period of 1912 to about 1925. See “dressingdownton.com/Exhibition” for the tour schedule. While I have never followed the show (Bonnie is a fan), I did find the costumes quite impressive and I enjoyed them a lot. There’s also a sort of exhibition catalog, with lots of pictures, which is rather nicely done. The only place I have seen it available is at the Biltmore Estate and at Biltmore.com (in the “Bookstore” section), but I’d guess that it would be available at the other sites on the exhibition tour, since the photos do not include any of Biltmore House, itself.
When we got back in town (literally; as we were driving into town) it started to rain – hard! By the time it stopped the middle of the next day, we had gotten over four and one-half inches of rain in the rain gauge on our back deck. There was some flooding in the area with it being a good deal worse in Lincoln and further to the south and west. I’m told that some considered it to be a 1000-year storm, but I never heard that stated officially. The lake, which is about a half a mile from our house (down hill), was VERY full, with some flooding, but nothing serious that I know about. Still, it was weird to drive across the bridge and see the water THAT close to the road.
Maggi’s sump pump apparently had some trouble keeping up with the load, so I spent a good part of Friday and Saturday with a carpet cleaner vacuuming water out of part of her basement carpet. Thankfully, there’s no evidence that any seepage got into her walls or did actual damage, but it took a lot of time and energy to try to assure a concerned parent that we were going to actually be able to prevent serious damage.
Sunday (Mother’s Day) things seemed pretty well under control and we had tickets to see the Omaha Community Playhouse production of I Hate Hamlet. Now, we did this show twice at Western, so it wasn’t as though I didn’t already know it fairly well. Still, it was different to see a show without knowing anyone on the stage or having any advance knowledge (except the plot line). After so many years of knowing most (or all) of the cast and crew and, generally, having at least some involvement with every show in the season, it was strange to actually get to be a “civilian” again. Yes, I did, occasionally, see something someplace besides at Western, but it was a change to just be a “regular” audience member.
I don’t think Rudnick’s script is unusually strong, but it does hold up fairly well as a pleasant, fun show. This production had the advantage of being able to cast people outside of the range of undergraduates, which was also a change, but I felt that Andrew Rally, the young male lead, seemed a bit too old and John Barrymore, didn’t seem old enough. Felicia had a great New York accent, but just didn’t seem altogether “there,” while Deirdre just wasn’t quite “dreamy” enough for me, Lillian seemed to be faking it and Gary was only annoying, not really “Hollywood”obnoxious enough for my taste. Of course, what this means is that I had a great time. Actually, I had forgotten how funny the show was. There are some really funny moments.
The costumes were quite nice, but didn’t seem “special” to me, although this isn’t really a play which relies on costumes a lot. I think Susan’s were at least as good, but it’s hard to say, since many of the costumes may have, certainly COULD have, come from the actor’s own wardrobes. As to the ones which couldn’t, I confess, I’ve yet to see a Barrymore costume which seemed to me to capture the classic “look” of Hamlet. Perhaps it’s that no one ever gives him an “Order of the Elephant” around his neck (an often used accessory since the early 1800’s) or a portrait of his father, also often worn around the neck. There just always seems to be something missing in every case I have seen in Barrymore’s costume.
I confess that I liked the set I designed for the 2002 Western production better than this one, although Hoey is (or at least feels) so much larger a space that it’s a bit hard to compare (and I’m almost certainly prejudiced). The set worked, although I think there was too much effort to make it “magical,” such as Barrymore making the swords appear out of the Newel posts by waving his hand above them, and not enough effort to do things like having an appropriate backing for the door to the roof. Yes, the “pop up swords” were fun, but Barrymore is the ghost of an actor, not an Illusionist/Magician. The bit just didn’t seem to me to fit. And, of course, seeing what appeared to be just the back wall of the theatre through the door to the roof was, I felt, jarring. It seemed like a pretty simple thing to fix and would have maintained the illusion of the world of the show.
However, all this proves is that (like all theatre people) I love to look for things which I’d do differently because MY production would be superior to most, if not all, others. This is, as we all know, not really true, but the ego necessary to survive in the theatre wants us to THINK it is (or at least might be).
After going over to check on Maggi’s carpet on Monday morning, almost completely dry, and seemingly having avoided any major complications, things have started to settle back to normal. We go to the local YMCA for “Aquacise” classes most days and plan to go catch the current exhibit at the local art museum on Friday. Bonnie has gotten involved with her sorority’s alumnae group and a couple of other local organizations which seem to have her running off to “meetings” every so often (usually over lunch) and we’ve joined a monthly “dinner group” which has led to getting to know some local couples a bit.
So far, I’ve managed to keep myself busy with reading, writing (mostly on this blog) and trying to figure out what to do now that I’ve supposedly “grown up.” I plan to become a volunteer for the Community Playhouse (probably administrative or front of the house in some capacity) but I also am thinking about volunteering at the Durham Museum and there’s always the zoo, the art museum, the library and the botanical gardens. Plus, my wife keeps me fairly occupied, it seems like there’s always something to do around the house, or that we need to shop for, or something! The days go by, and they are (mostly) pleasant. That’s probably about all we can really ask of life.