Jess goes to Stratford II took place this past weekend as my mom and I ventured to the Festival Theatre in Stratford for the second last night of Romeo And Juliet. In contrast to the consistently Elizabethan setting in the Taming of the Shrew, this edition of the Shakespeare classic opens surprisingly during modern times. After Act I the play drop-kicks us back in time to the traditional Elizabethan era until the end when we rocket back to the present day. This makes for an interesting juxtaposition of Shakespeare's brilliant dialogue spoken by vespa-riding, machine-gun wielding actors.
While the costumes were nice, I couldn't seem to tear my eyes away from the massive technicolour sun/ moon globe thing hanging over and completely dominating the stage. My favourite character was the slightly bumbling Friar Laurence (for those of you possessing a less than passing memory of Grade 9 English class, he's the guy who helps Romeo after his banishment and is the mastermind behind the ploy to help Juliet fake her death.) Stratford veteran Peter Donaldson does an excellent job of making his character and his scenes endearingly funny and likable amidst the doom and gloom of the rest of the play.
As memorable, if not more so than the play itself was the torrential downpour through which I had to drive to get there. Notwithstanding the lack of streetlamps on the single lane, non-divided highway or the omnipresent tailgating mack truck lights in my rear-view mirror, I was completely terrified by the lack of visibility out the front windshield. Driving old lady style; white knuckle death grip on, and my nose peering over the steering wheel, I realized the rain was coagulating on the window because it was covered in a thin film of grease! A combination of squirting wiper fluid at short intervals and blasting heat on the window made it just about possible to see, but of course in the process I had no choice but to turn the car into a stifling, suffocating sauna. Things were further complicated by the 7 car pileup on the highway and without the benefit of a map, GPS or sense of direction (not to mention ability to see out the window,) my attempts to find an alternate route out of Kitchener were fruitless. After driving in circles for 20 minutes and a quick pit-stop at Tim Horton's we conceded defeat and got back on the arrested highway. Luckily time wasn't of the essence as we'd left early. We past the accident scene and found the turn-off for Stratford. On the narrow, dark highway I was sure that each time we were overtaken by one of the enormous mack trucks flying past, either the encroaching behemoth would hit us, or else the massive blinding wall of spray it kicked up would render us trapped in our hot dark metal deathtrap, skidding off the road and ending up crushed in a twisted metal wreckage. Nerves shot to hell we arrived in Stratford, mercifully in one piece. The excitement didn't end there though. As I turned into a strip mall and headed down what I thought was an alley leading to a parking lot of a restaurant, I was startled to discover that it was an UNMARKED exit to a drive through! Seriously there was absolutely no sign whatsoever. Luckily the driver of the SUV I almost drove into wasn't going very fast. Boy did I back out of there quickly!
The way home was only slightly better. We spent about 30mins at the gas station trying to scrub the grease off the window (getting drenched in the rain and soaked in the puddles of course.) The windshield was slightly less opaque, however it was after midnight and I was really tired. Both my mom and I agreed that should we ever decide to undertake such an adventure again, we'd book a hotel room. Lesson learned!