I think I’ve mentioned Shakespeare by the Sea before. At 85 miles away, it’s a little absurd, but it’s one of my favorite summer activities. I’ve been going–though I haven’t made it every summer–since 2001. We take a picnic and go early and it’s a good time and good Shakespeare. It makes me think I actually live by (a) a big city and (b) the ocean.
The very first time, I sent out an email to everyone I thought might be interested (it was only an hour away then) and ended up with perhaps the most eclectic six passengers to ever ride for an hour each way packed into my SUV. They weren’t even brought together by the Shakespeare bond or the we-all-know-Bookgirl bond because a couple of them were dates of Shakespeare loving friends.
I missed 2002, but my friend Woodyman was THRILLED to see Renee O’Connor as Lady Macbeth.
In 2003 I invited this guy I’d met a week or so before to come to Twelfth Night with me. He countered with an offer to head to The City early and go to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) as well. He also offered to pack a picnic. It was our first outing sans the friend who introduced us and her chatty East Indian friend. It turns out, I’m not big fan of Modern Art and he’s not a big fan of Shakespeare, but we continue to go to Modern Art exhibits and Shakespeare performances because we’re big fans of each other. Proof that I was enamored with this guy: I ate a sandwich with mustard on it and didn’t say a word (until much, much later, probably after we were married). (On a side note, I got a call from my Illinois Roommate while we were in MoMa that day to tell me that she had just gotten engaged.)
We went at least one more summer, but then we had kids and the 85 mile drive just kind of put us off. So we let it go for a few years. This year I was determined–Carpe Diem, right? We sort of let it pass us by until we got to closing weekend. I put an announcement on that ubiquitous social networking site, but we were determined to go whether anyone else wanted to or not. We ended up just our family of four, but it was a good evening. We took the opportunity to shop for Swedish furniture and finally bought a second kid dresser we’d been eying for a year and a half.
I didn’t exactly have my act together for a picnic, so we did some Yelp legwork and ended up getting take-out at a little Hungarian bakery. Computerguy and the kids shared a ham and cheese crepe and I had cabbage strudel. We also got a container of “cold cherry soup” that pretty much tasted like cherry pie soup. I’d be pretty happy making this bakery a regular part of our SbtS experience. The show was Much Ado About Nothing. Both kids made it through the intermission, Bubble really watching and Squeak being quiet when he was eating. We put them in pajamas at intermission and Squeak fell asleep almost immediately. Bubble gave a valiant effort to staying awake, sitting on my lap and whispering to me about the show and actors and roles and trying to put it all together in her head*, but gave in to sleep eventually.
We got home about 12:40 with a drive-through stop for burgers (we should have gotten the kids their own crepe at dinner) and a switch of drivers on the way home.
It was a good day, and I look forward to many more such. I love that Bubble is enjoying plays and I think Squeak will, too.
*I was telling Bubble about Beatrice and Benedick and how they think they don’t like each other but the other characters are trying to get them to fall in love. She was concerned about the actors. “But they really like each other, Mommy, right? Like if they went to a restaurant together they would love each other?” I was trying to explain that they probably know each other, but aren’t necessarily paired up. It reminded me of watching The Cross and the Switchblade at church when I was a kid and thinking that to portray a character dying, the actor had to die. Since it was based on a true story, when I asked if he “really died” someone answered in the affirmative, not realizing I meant the actor, not the real person he was portraying. Levels of reality can be confusing.