Monday, October 17, 2005

The Two Part Tango: Stratford

The Two Part Tango: Stratford

It hardly needs saying that along with shoes, Sienna Boho-Princess and the return of Comedy Dave to the nation's airwaves, there is little I love more than a literary icon. And last week I got to demonstrate my intense literary iconic geekness in all its glory on two consecutive days. Two consecutive days. Are you feeling the glow?

First up was Jonson's Sejanus in Stratford. Now I should establish something here. Mr Ben Jonson may have his picture in the National Portrait Gallery but that on its own does not make for a literary icon. No no no. To pass the icon test there must be a picture, a t-shirt, a play/film and, possibly most importantly, a burgeoning tourist industry surrounding their home. There probably should be something about their work being iconic in there too, but, let's face it, when we're dealing with dead celebrities, the person looms larger than the work. So Jonson fails the DA patented Literary Icon Test, primarily because he doesn't get even as much as a cameo in Shakespeare in Love. But if Jonson's no icon then Stratford is. You might not quite be able to smell Shakespeare there, what with all the American tourists, but the fact remains that you can buy lots and lots of Shakespeare tat. Want a mouse mat with quotes from Hamlet on it? Want an Arden Shakespeare? Want a glove puppet Shakespeare? Then Stratford's your place. It is also, and not incidently it must be said, home to some great theatre. And I'd never seen a production in the Swan before so I WAS EXCITED. That's capital letters excited.

The Swan itself is lovely. Intimate and interesting; all beams and balconies and strange seating. The ticket price was worth the experience alone. As for Sejanus, it was, as I couldn't get past when explaining about it on Friday night, a solid production of a solid play. With its Romans and unequivocal portrayal of the mob I couldn't but help think of Julius Caesar. And it remains that I'm particularly fond of that JC. But Sejanus skipped along nicely, complete with weirdy pray-to-statue-moment so beloved of dramatists of the period and which I, frankly, don't get, and ended on a nicely questioning note. It even had some - not at all gratutitous - male nudity going on. Which amused me greatly if only for the faces of the eighty year old women in the front row.

Post educational theatre visit (and ice cream) came gift shop time and Nik and I spent a rather amusing half hour playing in the Swan giftshop, which, when you consider it is slightly bigger than a broom cupboard, the depth of our achievement must be noted. That we also managed to have a puppet show, demonstrate why - despite both of us being in our twenties - giving us fake swords is not a good idea and have a RANT ABOUT T-SHIRT SIZING would show why I'm only allowed in giftshops on a once in six weeks basis.

Gift shop plundered, it was off to the pub where I drew the short straw and had to go and order a pitcher of woo woo. The humiliation of this was only lessoned by the fact that it meant that I saw a group of American tourists properly queueing at the bar. And when I say queuing I mean standing as you would if you were waiting for the bus. Rumours that I laughed at this, walked up to the bar and the got served before all of them are not entirely unfounded. I blame the woo woo. I wish I could attribute the plans for 'An Evening With Nik and Coza' (and Special Guests) to the woo woo but we'd already come up with that frankly brilliant idea prior to entering the pub. It just got more detailed and involved after the pitcher. People may mock, but you'll all be wanting an invite.

On the way home I did the rather classy thing of being desperate for the toilet (woo woo) and all the toilets at the train station being locked*. Consequently I discovered why there are indeed more reasons to shop at Morrisons. Not least because they'll do your dry cleaning too.

*I'm sorry, what is that about at 7.30pm? Where do they think Stratford is?


Nik said...

i'm commenting before i've even read the whole entry...yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay for the legend that is comedy dave being back on air, though why did they spend practically the whole show talking about cillit bang?!

Nik said...

right, read it now. i forgot about those swords. let it be said, stratford know how to make swords, they were wooden - it would take a lot more to break them than plastic ones...not that i've ever been involved in a fight involved plastic swords that ended with one breaking...
and if people keep rubbishing the, quite frankly brilliant, idea of 'an evening with nik & corinne' [with special guests], then you will all be erased from the guest list. so there.

gayle said...

Are the fact that the train station toilets were closed and the fact that you know Morrison's do dry cleaning directly linked?! ;-)

Val said...

So just who has rubbished the 'evening with...'? I'm waiting patiently for my invite, and for you to specify some suitable theatrical guests! x

gayle said...

...and for some fit blokes too, obviously. Shallow, moi? Absolutely!

Nik said...

gayle - obviously we need backing... ;)

morrisons also print photos.

Nik said...

forgot to say that earlier that when i was typing my earlier replies i was listening to tango maureen from rent - see it's the nik/coza telepathy network [since the ND one broke down...]

[sorry for all the comments, i promise i will stop at some point]