On Stage: Twelfth Night

So I’m sitting on the couch contemplating the mysteries of the universe when The Wife comes to me and she says,

“I’ve got good news and bad news.”

“Oh. OK, what’s the bad news?”

“There’s no opera tonight.”

“No opera tonight?! My, that is bad news. What’s the good news?”

“We’re going to Shakespeare in the Park instead!”

“Uh, I don’t think you fully comprehend how good news/bad news works.”

And so it was that Friday night we made our way to Forest Park in St. Louis for the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis production of “Twelfth Night,” or “What You Will.”

The plan was that I would pick up junior after work and drive him down to the Mother-in-Law’s place, then pick up The Wife at her office downtown, go next door to the grocery store and pick up some sandwiches, then drive to the park. We would arrive there around 5:30, 2.5 hours before showtime, which would give us plenty of time to park in our usual lot and find a good spot to set down.

I was at 270 and Manchester when I realized that while I had remembered to pack the cooler, snacks, blanket, hat, iPad (to read my free comics while waiting) and insect repellant — I FORGOT THE LAWN CHAIRS. Dammit. I am not going to sit on the lawn for 6 hours. I am too old for that and even when I was young I was too old for that.

Too late to go back home now, plus traffic was at a standstill at 270 and Manchester (as usual). I drop the boy off, and stop at a conveniently placed Target that was on my route to downtown. Bought a couple of lawn chairs (purple for me, red for her) and didn’t end up too far behind schedule. Until I missed my exit into downtown and wound up heading west on I-70 and had to call The Wife for directions on how to get back. Surprisingly, I still made it to her office by 5 p.m.

2013-Twelfth-NightBy this time I was pretty frazzled so I let The Wife drive to Forest Park. When we got there already there were lines of cars on the street. What the hell? We inch our way through traffic to our lot — STAFF PARKING ONLY. What the hell? We’ve been parking here for years. This is the only lot relatively close to Shakespeare Glenn that isn’t closed to the public. The Wife is infuriated. I’m glad I’m not driving. It’s 5:30 p.m. and there’s nowhere to park. The Wife is so angry she’s threatening to go home. Now when my wife is threatening to leave a Shakespeare Festival without seeing the show — and it’s her favorite of Will’s plays at that — then you know this is serious business.

We eventually find a spot near the Grand Basin and start pulling our cooler and carrying our chairs down a gravel path and then up a large hill. We get to the glen and the place is packed. At 5.30 p.m. Two-and-a-half hours before showtime. For Shakespeare. Why?

I’ll tell you why. It’s the RRoy St. Louis Freebie Festival Imperative. I’ve been living with this for 20+ years so it’s no longer a theory, it’s fact. Whenever I want to do anything in St. Louis, EVERYONE IN ST. LOUIS HAS TO DO IT AT THE SAME TIME. This show has been running every night since Memorial Day weekend and I assure you it wasn’t as crowded any night before or since. But tonight was the night I was going, so EVERYBODY had to go.

Now granted, it has been raining or threatening-to-rain every weekend since the festival started and this was pretty much the first really decent weekend night the show has had, and it’s the final weekend so it’s now or never, but still…

We did manage to find a decent spot in an aisle that was just wide enough for two lawn chairs. We parked close enough to the people in front of us that no latecomers could barge in front. It was probably the nicest setup we’d had at the fest, although sitting on the aisle means have to deal with people constantly walking back and forth during the show. Sit down people and watch the show.

The 2.5 hours went by pretty quickly. I read a few comics, went for a walk, Lar found some of her old Nun friends to chat with. As for the show itself, meh, it’s Shakespeare. It was a good production, nice stage and fine actors. I really liked the musicians that played throughout. I’m pretty sure I’ve written about “Twelfth Night” a dozen times before as I think I’ve seen a dozen other productions. Check the archives. I still think Malvolio gets a bad rap. The actor who portrayed him — Anderson Matthews– was excellent.

“Twelfth Night” ends Sunday, so move quickly if you want to see it. I’m sure it won’t be as crowded these last performances since I won’t be there. https://www.sfstl.com/

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