Thursday, July 19, 2012

English History Plays in Stratford

by Susan Grimes Width
What an intense Friday the 13th! Linda Theil, Richard Joyrich and I travelled to Canada via the Blue Water Bridge . After a lunch with Michael & Lynne Kositsky we saw a wonderful performance of Cymbeline in the Tom Patterson Theatre. Cara Ricketts as Imogen, the daughter of Cymbeline, was fantastic in both her beautiful gown and dressed as a young man.  Graham Abbey as Posthumos, so named because he was delivered at his mother's death, was great as a loving husband torn away by his father-in-law's disapproval, a cuckold husband - oh ye of little faith, and as a bare-chested soldier. The fighting between Cybeline's faithful and the Roman Soldiers seemed to take place right in our laps. The play was staged wonderfully, only my cheeks complained at the length!

After a quick dinner and too-short rest, we attended the Festival Theatre for Henry V. Wow! The stage was massive and cold and the huge English and French flags were switched as backdrops so frequently it was dizzying. Thank goodness for the copy of Peter Saccio's Shakespeare's English Kings, copyright 1977 Oxford University Press. I could never have kept up with all the characters if I hadn't read the historical information in this book ahead of time. The light moment was Bethany Jillard, as Catherine, King Charles VI's daughter. As she sat naked in her bath, her lady-in-waiting taught her the English word for parts of the body. Catherine's commentary in French certainly distinguished the French speakers in the audience by their laughter. The entire audience held their breath as she rose nude from the tub behind the sheets held by the maids! The strategy and battles between the French and English were no laughing matter. Death was well-represented on the stage. Another great Stratford production.