Saturday, 10 December 2016

I Muddle My Shakespeares

Wendy Cope's lines from Serious Concerns came back to me yesterday as I was trying to work out why I'd muddled up my Shakespeares so badly:

Jesus, in His goodness and grace,
Jesus found me a parking space
In a very convenient place.
Sound the horn and praise Him

If you see life through one lens (in this case a fixation on the apparent concern of a man who died two millennia ago for the irritating details of contemporary life - a paradigm very familiar to me from childhood) events can only make one kind of sense.

On Thursday, for my birthday treat, my longest-serving friend took me to see Twelfth Night at the Donmar.  We'd been to their excellent production of Julius Caesar a couple of years ago.  I was looking forward to it, but tired after a full-on time at work.  In the warm dark of the theatre I began to unwind, drift: I felt sleepy, dreamy.

The production was interesting - set, like the Caesar, in a women's prison, with minimal staging and props, an all-female cast in grey track suits.  I thought the introduction of Ariel into Twelfth Night a little avant garde, admittedly, but was committed to my view.  The mention of Caliban, however, was a bucket of cold water, and I woke up to reality. All at once, I knew I was entirely in the wrong play.  I took an embarrassed leap into The Tempest.  And from thereon, everything made a much better and more substantial kind of sense.

"It's like that game in I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue - one song to the time of another," said my L-S-F when I confessed my confusion to her over lunch yesterday.

"It's a question of hermeneutics," said our companion.

I'm glad I cleared things up in my head before I'd gone too far into the play, and that I have such kind and forgiving friends.  And I'm glad that I have a second chance at seeing things for what they are, and that I've found everything's so much more interesting than what I was led to expect.

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