Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Making Fritters of English

"Thinkest thou I'll endanger my soul gratis?"

Thinkest thou I could go to the theater without a little something to eat first?

Perish the thought!

Short on time after my fragrant road trip, I stopped at Bistro 27 for the Bistro salad (baby lettuces, candied walnut, sliced Bosc pears, red onions, Gorgonzola and tomatoes in  a honey vinaigrette) paired with a movie buff who wanted to hear all about my recent James River Film Fest forays (let's just say I'm responsible for him putting "Mixup ou Meli- Melo" on his Netflix queue) and my evening was off to a running start.

"Have I lived to stand at the taunt of one that makes fritters of English?"

Richmond Shakespeare was doing their monthly staged reading, this time of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," a play I last saw at Agecroft when they performed it as "The Merry Wives of Windsor Farms" to great hilarity with rich white people spoofing.

Tonight, they were joined by the On the Air Radio Players, a group I'd recently seen and loved, here. 

So this was my first staged reading with sound effects and commercials (for RSC's Agecroft season, for the Virginia Wine Expo, for donating to RSC), not to mention a trio of 40s-style girl singers harmonizing to everything.

But mainly, it was a good laugh.

The play, about marriage, revenge and jealousy, was sarcastic, ironic and full of sexual innuendo, the latter three all being things I appreciate.

"Setting the attractions of my good parts aside, I have no other charms."

Sir John Falstaff kissed his own hand when kissing sounds were needed.

When his dialog required him to wait for the stroke of twelve, he impatiently looked at the sound effects guy, who sped up his chimes inappropriately.

"The Windsor bell hath struck twelve; the minute draws on..." he said, casting a withering look at the bell ringer, who would not return his glance.

It was all great fun.

After intermission, our announcer returned us to the play with the words, "And now back to the real housewives of Windsor County."

I get it, reality TV humor.

"Let him woo for himself."

Including the announcer, it was a cast of twenty, easily the largest staged reading I'd seen by this group.

The actors took the play as lightly as Shakespeare had in writing it, employing all kinds of accents (Welsh, Southern and the hysterical Adam Mincks' over-the-top Frenchman, with his perpetually-raised imaginary dueling pistol) to great comic effect.

It was a play that brought merriment throughout and too often the audience found itself laughing through the next line; I'm only sorry that the next reading isn't until October.

Thank goodness for summer and the Agecroft season so I can get my couplet fix.

Despite the free glass of wine that comes with the price of admission, Secco beckoned afterwards and I settled in with Valentines Cote de Provence Rose (white pepper and floral) and the stinkiest cheese not on the menu, the Hooligan (raw cow's milk washed rind and stinking of Connecticut barnyard) for a little bit of post-theater heaven.

My businessmen seatmates were too soon replaced by a couple displaying their tongues and each other's tonsils with alarming regularity.

Fortunately, cheese whiz Sarah requested that I move to the other end of the bar for more wine, a catch-up session and to avoid witnessing the groping.

Not that I have anything against groping, mind you.

Perish the thought!

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