Miracle Theatre Company brought the Taming of the Shrew to the Ecos amphi-theatre this week on a blessedly balmy night, allowing the audience to picnic among the stones before settling down to laugh their socks off at this wonderful contemporary staging of Shakespeare's first drama. It's considered one of the 'problem plays', relying as it does on psychological cruelty to bully an incipient feminist into near-bovine submission, but with these 5 actors there's never a queasy moment, though many delightful cheesy ones. It was easy to believe this bored Kevin-the-teenager-Kate could be entranced by the New-Agey anarchism of Paddy/Petruchio as he dragged her away from bourgeois academe and cuddled her on hilltop in the rain - helpfully provided by a relay of watering cans. 'Pick up the grass' he instructs his bride as she gathers the camping equipment at the end of their scene, and Kate obediently carries the set offstage too. Five stars, def.
And now I'm planning my long weekend at Edinburgh Festival - short but hopefully spicy. I want to catch Luke Wright's show and as many other Spoken Word events as I can cram in.
I always have a pile of by-my-bed books on the go - currently Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything, Small Island still unfinished, The Blood of Strangers by surgeon-poet Frank Huyler, and Esme Ellis's extraordinary biography Pathway to Sunrise - and since my birthday another three: Ian Sinclair's 'Edge of the Orison' tracking John Clare's long walk in 1841 when he fled the asylum; 'Unaccompanied Women' by Jane Juska (the American sexagenarian who advertised for lust partners in the New York Review and had enough adventures to fill a best-selling book - a theme to interest any writer attempting to reclaim the notion of 'elderly' as more than a roadsign warning of dodderer hazard), and Moon Palace by Paul Auster. The prose style this last one seemed initially unencouragingly stolid yet strangely compelling, and now I'm finding moments of iridescence. Look at this, glimmering suddenly in a rather maudlin backstory: "Like all the Foggs, he had a penchant for aimlessness and reverie, for sudden bolts and lengthy torpors." I paused to muse on my personal penchants.
"..for restlessness and obsessive notetaking, for addiction to heart-beat rhythm music and laughter, and a perverse persistent sense of being an outsider in her own life"... Well, it was 3 a.m.
Looking at these diverse titles I realise they're all about journeys in the Rilke sense that "the only journey is the one within." And maybe in the Pierre Teilhard de Chardin sense too: "We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey." I'm currently editing an anthology on the theme of 'transit' for the very talented Santiago Writers, so it's a notion much on my mind.