Wednesday, August 15, 2007

the beautiful, the bad, and the beautiful

Our first full-day at the International Festival, and everything is feeling very Scotch. Lotsa bagpipes, lotsa kilts, and lotsa people dressed up like they are in a Steven Groo movie.

The Royal Mile is where all the action is, so I took the group up there nice and early to get a head start on ticket sales. The thing about the festival is that there are thousands of plays happening, and you kind of have to zero in on what you want and then hope you can get a ticket for it. The tickets are really cheap, like a couple of pounds, and the plays range from the truly inspiring to the paint-peelingly bad. We had both today!

Our first play was Under Milk Wood, which is based on the Dylan Thomas poem. It’s the story of a day in the life of a little Welsh town. Six actors playing over sixty roles. I really liked it. I thought it was charming and had a great energy. They did a lot of physical movement, and used chalkboards to create the set. I thought it was really inventive. It’s the kind of thing that turns a lot of non-theatre types off; because it’s very simple and very creative. It’s not hitting you over the head with spectacle. The Phantom of the Opera it aint. But I’ve know how hard it is to finance plays, and sometimes you just have to be innovative on a budget. The shows are usually better that way anyway.

The second play we saw was called The Threepenny Opera. I’d love to tell you about it, but it was put on by high school students, and that may be all the description you need. I would also love to tell you the plot, but I was too busy poking my eyes out with dull pencils, pouring Drano in my ears, and curbing myself to make the time go by more quickly.

Tonight’s performance was a real opera, and I pretty much loved it. It was L’Orfeo, performed in Italian by Spaniards. It moved at a snail’s pace which initially freaked me out, but then I clicked into opera mode and went into my special place. The music was beautiful and the set was incredible. It was the finest example of forced-perspective I have ever seen. I felt like I was watching something at the Paris Opera House circa 1700’s. It was so elaborate. You have never seen The Underworld, the River Stix, and God himself coming down on a fiery steed until you’ve seen this particular L’Orfeo. And chances are you won’t, so take my word for it. It was pretty awesome. I also loved making some new friends at intermission. I’ll tell you about them later.

On the way home we stopped at Frankenstein’s and had plate after plate of nachos. Wes busted out his best Michael Jackson dance moves and Chelsea, Alex, Mark, and Aurora gave us a floor show. I especially loved those nachos I was telling you about.