Friday, August 21, 2009

Wandering Through History

Today was largely a day off, with free time to explore town. Since we didn't have theater tickets until evening, we spent a leisurely morning at the house, then headed across town to try breakfast at Brother's. The breakfast was okay, nothing really special, but the hot chai was quite excellent and the house-made scones were stellar. Tomorrow we'll probably be back at Morning Glory, mostly because of proximity.

Since we were in town after breakfast, we decided it was time to venture into some of the used book stores. First stop, Book Exchange, which is my kind of bookstore: unpretentious, and obviously staffed by bibliophiles. All four of us had a grand time shopping around, and I think each of us came out with at least two books. I found a Fred Pohl book I was previously unaware of, and another book by Allen Steele. I definitely need to read more science fiction!

Next stop was a pilgrimage to the Dagoba Organic Chocolate outlet, just outside town. Dagoba makes tasty organic chocolate, and they have quite a bit out for tasting. The woman running the tasting room was friendly and knowledgeable, and went out of her way to give us tastes of a couple of things that were not already set out. We bought quite a few bars of different flavors, several of which we were previously unaware of.

On from there to what bills itself as the world's biggest, best-stocked game store, Fun Again. I guess they have a well-stocked warehouse behind the retail section, but the store itself is not huge (though it is very well-stocked). Ultimately we didn't decide to buy any games, but it was fun to look around.

Then across the parking lot to yet another (mostly) used book store, Bookwagon. I thought they had less overall selection than Book Exchange, and not nearly the ambiance, but we did manage to find several more books to buy. My favorite, which I stumbled across on the new arrivals rack, was a copy of John Muir's The Velvet Monkey Wrench. I learned most of what I know about automobiles from Muir's classic "How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive," so I've always been intrigued to read his Utopian prescription for living. We'll see how that turns out.

After a brief stopover at the house to rest up and change clothes, we ventured out to dinner. Somehow, after brunch and chocolate tasting, no one was all that hungry, but we knew we wouldn't survive the evening's play without sustenance. So we decided to try Greenleaf restaurant. The food was pretty ordinary, but might have seemed more impressive had we chosen to sit outside, along the creek. The BLT was worth eating, though.

And at last, off to the theater, where Jan and I saw "Henry VIII" at the Elizabethan Stage. It was quite impressive. We had to overcome a little cognitive dissonance, as the early scenes featured Buckingham, who last night was Professor Harold Hill, and Cardinal Wolsey, who was last night's tongue-tied mayor. Of course, this is both one of the joys and one of the drawbacks to a repertory company. It was momentarily distracting, but ultimately fine.

It's quite a staging of the play, majestic and full of pomp. In the end, I suppose the play is really more about Wolsey and Queen Katherine than about Henry, really (though he's obviously an important part). And more than any of the characters, it's about England and the struggle between the Catholic church and protestantism, which would quite literally tear at the fabric of the country for at least a couple more centuries. Of all the Shakespeare histories, this one might be the most complex in that it deals with such recent events at the time of its writing. (Forgive me if all this is obvious; I hadn't read or seen this play before tonight!)

Anyway, some very strong performances here. Wolsey was particularly good in the second act, when he's largely in monologue mode. He had some trip-ups in the first act with dialogue, but really shone in his solo spotlights. Katherine was quite powerful (although I thought he deathbed scene was probably the weakest part of the play). And Henry had his moments. I thought his silent scene during Katherine's speech at her trial was particularly good. He really conveyed a lot by his physical reactions.

All in all, a very worthy effort. We really enjoyed the play, and it hardly seemed to take an hour, much less two-and-a-half!

We ended the evening with a quick visit to Zoey's Cafe for ice cream. Very tasty gelato. I had the mystery rotator tonight, which was a chocolate and marshmallow with coconut. Very yummy!

One more long day tomorrow, with two plays, then we head home Sunday.

1 comment:

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