musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

the monkey didn't make it

Several years ago a good friend and I decided that instead of exchanging birthday and Christmas gifts (and never knowing what on earth to give each other) we'd invest in a theatre ticket subscription for two. It has definitely paid off.

We're nearing the end of our third season now and we've had early and excellent seats at big-ticket shows like Lord of the Rings and Les Miserables, as well as many excellent plays we might not otherwise have discovered (Da Kink in My Hair, The Last Empress, and Wicked to name just a few).

Even better, our investment guarantees we'll have a regular excuse to get together for a night on the town, a chance to catch up on what's been happening in our busy lives. We're both workaholics, so these regularly scheduled 'escapes' are a Very Good Thing.

Tuesday night was this month's escape night. We met uptown after work for a pleasant wander through Teatro Verde —one of my favourite wishful-shopping spots. Next, we eased into dinner at Arthur's* with a couple of sour apple martinis. Chef Michael (formerly of Canoe) served up food that was nothing short of sublime and anything but ordinary (our meals came with cassava croquettes instead of the more traditional potato dish). Yum!

After dinner it was off to the Royal Alex for Tennessee Williams' Orpheus Descending. I'm sitting here now, fingers poised above the keys, still uncertain of what I want to say about the play, even though I've been pondering it for much of the day. Hmmm...

In almost every book or play there's one scene or snippet of dialogue that seems to stick in my mind. Last night it was a reminiscence by Lady Torrance (played by Seana McKenna). "The show is over," she said. "The monkey is dead." The show wasn't over and the monkey was just a childhood memory but that statement set the tone of the play. The action takes place in a small town in the American south, circa 1940. It's about choices, morality (or lack of it), regrets, fears, hope, retribution and, of course, sex. The characters are angry, unhappy, sometimes downright crazy ... but the result is engaging in a you-know-they're-going-to-crash-but-you-just-can't-look-away kind of way.

In his program notes, director Miles Potter quotes David Mamet (who's paraphrasing Stanislavsky), "And there are plays...that are perhaps upsetting or intricate or unusual that leave you unsure, but which you think about perhaps the next day, and perhaps for a week, and perhaps for the rest of your life. Because they aren't clean, they aren't neat, but there's something in them that comes from the heart and, so, goes to the heart."

I guess that just about covers it.

* Arthur's is at 501 College Street in Toronto (416-413-9998)


At 12:24 am, Blogger Pammie said...

Hi Ostara,

I think getting each other theatre tickets is a fanTAStic idea!! A way to get together all through the year and see some things you might not normally see. I don't usually go out of my way to see a show unless seeing a show is part of the experience of the place I am visiting (such as NYC), but every time I've been to a show, I've always enjoyed it. It's a great idea, all I need to do is make me a friend in Vancouver and I will do the same!!

At 7:46 am, Blogger Ostara said...

Good plan, Pammie! I highly recommend it.


At 12:19 am, Blogger Pammie said...

Hi Ostara,

I only just now noticed the title of your that monkey making Christmas presents too?! Blimey I haven't been following him. Did you see his visit to his optometrist? I gotta say, his optometrist is a VERY patient man.

At 11:10 am, Blogger Ostara said...

Ha! I forgot about that monkey! Must go check out his optometrist adventure. My title was just an oblique reference to the primate's demise mentioned in the play ...I guess was a little too oblique. LOL

For curious comment readers, the happy 'Monkey' Pammie mentions lives at:


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