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Eleventh Night

Tonight was our annual Twelfth Night Play-Reading and Holiday Feast.  Since we don't do Christmas and we both love festivals and rituals, this is our semi-denominational and utterly irreligious Mid-Winter festive occasion, compete with crackers, paper crowns, a galette de rois, and a play reading.  There is a Repertory Cast of Characters--two old friends from Ellen's previous life here in the city and newer friends vschanoes  and d_aulnoy , sometime (but not this year) joined by Distinguished Guest Artists.  There is always Major Cooking, and an interesting play, often (but not always) Shakespeare.

This year, there was Julia Child's boeuf Bourginon, Swiss chard with raisins and pine nuts, and roasted potatoes.  And The Merry Wives of Windsor.  There's a reason that The Merry Wives of Windsor is not often performed, and it's not because of its subtlety and complex language.  Do you remember how I said that nothing dates like humor?  Well, this is a play in which Shakespeare was basically laying down the one-liners as fast and thick as he could think of them--insulting, in the process, the Welsh, the French, the clergy, married men, single women, fat people, dirty laundry, pigs, tapsters, and go-betweens.  He may have insulted other groups, too, but there were many jokes that sailed over my head, even though I'm tolerably familiar with Shakespeare's Bawdy.  Ellen reading Falstaff and especially the coleric Frenchman Caius was a wonder to behold. vschanoes negotiated Mistress Page and assorted secondary characters with verve and exemplary diction.  d_aulnoy read the drunken Host as Howard Cosell, which certainly differentiated him from Mistress Ford.  I did my best with Sir Hugh Evans the clergyman, Mistress Quickly, and whoever else came up, while the two gentlemen (one of them our very own paddymeboy ) present browsed among husbands, hopeful lovers, and serving men at will.

Did we finish.  We did not.  We fell apart at the penultimate scene of Act IV.  Perhaps it was the sack, donated by one of the gentlemen.  Perhaps it was the prose or the puns or the plot, which is lame and of a lameness.  Certainly it was that two members of the company had to be at work in the morning and did not want to stay up to all hours.  Still, a good time was had by all.  And the 3 hours I spent yesterday on doing Juia's boeuf Bourginon properly was not wasted.  It tasted amazing.  There's something to be said for the most complicated way of doing things.

So.  Joy, health, love, and peace to all here in this place.  Old Christmas is past, Twelve-tide is the last.  And we bid you adieu, great joy in the new.

ETA paddy's LJ name, which I didn't know, and to change the subject line, which was inaccurate.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 6th, 2010 06:24 am (UTC)
Re: Thirteenth Night
If I understand LJ correctly, I see that this is the first entry tagged "Chateau Riverside." May there be many more.

Am I correct that the evening included a rousing soliloquy by Lady Davenant from the marvelous play "Or," performed by one of the gentlemen in attendance? And that learnéd conversation around the dinner table was derailed in swift succession by groups singing snatches of songs from Mary Poppins and Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol? And that when everyone realized that they were wearing maroon, they all howled the word "Maroooon!" like the werewolves in an Angela Carter story? And that whenever the beautiful fussy old clock in Chateau Riverside strikes the hour, it sounds a bit like "Let it Snow"? That's what I heard, anyhow--
Jan. 6th, 2010 04:06 pm (UTC)
Re: Thirteenth Night
You are correct on every point, dear. And a good thing you reminded me of it all, because by the time we'd finished cleaning up, I'd completely forgotten the Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol sing. And that would never do, no siree.

The clock needs tuning, btw. Some of the notes are missing from the chime. Beautiful and fussy indeed.
Jan. 6th, 2010 11:46 am (UTC)
Most interesting. I belong to a regular Shakespeare reading group. Our reading talents range from the adequate to the ... inadequate, but we have fun. We did Merry Wives last year, and found sufficient humor in the Fords and Pages.

Our practice is to sit in a circle, and starting with one, each person in turn chooses a part for a scene. Then going on from after the last reader, each chooses for the next scene, save only that those who had only very tiny parts in the last scene are allowed to choose again first. Is that practice also yours?
Jan. 6th, 2010 04:09 pm (UTC)
We're nothing like that organized. paddymeboy generally casts each scene as it comes up, with people agitating for favorite parts. Sometimes key parts are retained throughout; sometimes not. We are an anarchic lot.

Jan. 6th, 2010 01:40 pm (UTC)
In defense of my Host, I was picturing him as being very drunk ... and in respect to my *hosts,* thank you for a lovely evening!
Jan. 6th, 2010 04:09 pm (UTC)
You're most welcome.
Jan. 6th, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)
Heee! Have you seen the BBC version of Merry Wives? It's quite fun, and has Ben Kingsley as Master Ford and Richard Griffiths as Falstaff. Not a perfect version by any stretch, but still entertaining.

It sounds like a lovely night! I have been meaning to put together a play reading for ages, but I don't know enough people in DC who would be interested...
Jan. 6th, 2010 04:12 pm (UTC)
I may have seen that version, if it was part of the complete Shakespeare they broadcast, years and years and years ago, when I was in grad school and there were wolves in Boston.

You only need 4-5 people for a play reading. Talking to yourself as two different characters is part of the fun. Ellen and I have sometimes read favorites, just the two of us, taking alternate speeches. The last one we read that was was The Lady's Not For Burning.
Jan. 6th, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC)
Ooh, good point! I may have to put together a party at some point -- Shakespeare and alcohol! Always a good combination. :)
Jan. 6th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC)
That sounds lovely. Joy in the new to you both also.
Jan. 6th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)
The best way to take in Merry Wives of Windsor is via Giuseppe Verdi!
Jan. 6th, 2010 07:08 pm (UTC)
You are so right. Next time someone around here does Falstaff, I'm there.

Jan. 6th, 2010 07:14 pm (UTC)
Are you going to Potlatch? It's playing at Seattle Opera Feb. 27 to March 13. The cast is good - the very funny Peter Rose in the first cast as Falstaff, Stephanie Blythe as Mistress Quickly.
Jan. 7th, 2010 02:08 pm (UTC)
Sadly, no. I have to stay home and write.
Jan. 7th, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
Jan. 8th, 2010 06:04 am (UTC)
I wish I had your lives...
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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