Saturday, June 20, 2009

OSF Day 3: Macbeth and Don Quixote

We awoke once again to the dulcet smells of Dean's cooking at the Blue Moon Bed and Breakfast.  Today it was an apricot bake with the usual fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee, fresh fruit.  Again I went looking for Ty, his doggie.  Here's a picture of Will in front of the Blue Moon:


Then off to find Ed and friends.  Many of the Stanford theater crowd had come into town and were staying at a youth hostel on Main Street.  Ed made a spicy egg scramble with mushrooms and red peppers and chicken sausage, and it was delicious.  We ate our second breakfast and then took off to wonder more around Ashland before our 2:00 matinée.

Several of the nice people at the Blue Moon had recommended trying the trail nearby the creek, so we walked through the park to a lovely wide trail, and found a romantic bench overlooking the creek:


Then we had to take off to see Macbeth.  The play was well done, with a strong Lady Mac and abstract, post-atomic-bomb-esque sets, including a twisted, melted staircase and most striking, iron cast statues of people caught in muck lining the edge of the stage.  Macbeth is not a light play, as some fairly brutal murders take place (including the killing of a young child on stage), and I left it feeling dark and somewhat disgusted.  Will liked it, however, because of all the fight choreography, even though we both agreed that the actor playing the main role did too much shouting.

Between the matinée and the preview for Don Quixote we called Ed, who told us to meet the group at Alex's, a cute bar/restaurant on the plaza square.  When we got there the Stanford group had moved on to start cooking dinner, but Ed recommended we try Alex's famous Bloody Mary's.  We sat on the porch overlooking the square and sipping our Bloody Mary's, which Will said was quite a production including two different types of ground peppers, olive juice, and other ingredients as well as the tomato juice and vodka:


It was spicy, tangy, and perfect.  When we finished the Bloody Mary's, we headed again to the hostel to eat dinner with Ed and his crew.  We were excited to meet Eddie, who had played the teenage boy Danny (?) in the Music Man production we saw yesterday, at dinner with us.  Eddie had given the preview for Don Quixote in the past, so he gave us some of the information that he knew.

Will and I still sped off to make the 6:30 preview information about Don Quixote.  It is a novel written by a middle-aged gentleman (I think both Cervantes and the fictional Quixote were in their fifties at the time of the novel) and this play version contemplates the life that Cervantes led as well as Quixote.  Cervantes had a father who was a barber; he fought as a soldier and crippled his left hand valiantly in a naval battle; his ship was captured by pirates and he was sold into slavery; he came back to Spain and worked as a tax collector and other random jobs.  The OSF version of Don Quixote featured Cervantes as a mysterious character that continued to show up through the play, and it was great to know the information about his life ahead of time so that we could figure out that each of the fact tidbits about Cervantes in the play were based on biographical information.

Following the preview, we had some time to kill, so we went to a cafe for some coffee and fruit pie:


We are chugging our way through Independent People, an Icelandic book by Halldor Laxness, and we read out loud to each other while sipping our coffee and munching on our pies.  Then still with some time to kill, we found a trendy, friendly wine bar called Liquid Assets, where we had a glass of wine before heading into the evening show.

Don Quixote we both agreed was by far our favorite show of the six, which was great because we finished on a high point.  It featured the extensive use of ingenious puppets to set the scene, to include animals (such as vultures, owls, ducks) to set the mood of the play, and to delightfully represent the "foes" that Don Quixote defeats.  For example, OSF made a flock of sheep out of socks (think: sock stuffed with another sock to add weight, and then attached by the top to the frame so that the fleece all moved with the puppet).  When Don Quixote mistook the flock of sheep for attacking armies and slaughters them, the puppeteers turned the sheep upside down, revealing red socks beneath the white socks -- dead sheep.  The creativity involved in creating windmills, donkeys, the horse, and The Enchanter (a symbol for Don Quixote's fear of failure and of death) reminded me of The Lion King -- creative, ingenious, and charming.

The bottom line, however, is that I cared for Don Quixote.  I was concerned through the entire play that they would kill him at the end (which Ed said should have happened), and was delighted that they found another way of tying up the story.  I am a sucker for stories about people who believe in their dreams, and Don Quixote is always kind, always chivalric, and always just.

It was supposed to rain today, but it held off all day and just started sprinkling in the last scene of the play.  How perfect.