Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Tempest fugit

When I was briefly footloose in late July, I snatched at opportunities to do things without negotiation or coercion. One of those things was taking in a play by the other summer Shakespearean company in Victoria, Shakespeare by the Sea, who have been competing in a friendly manner with the far better established Victoria Shakespeare Festival. SbtS has been at this for about three years, and so far I had failed to find the time to attend.

So I set off on a Sunday afternoon, after glimpsing heads in sun-hats and brilliant sunshine from the front window of the house-sit. By the time I reached the bus-stop, I knew there might be trouble. The sun had fled, and black clouds crowded the northern horizon behind Government House. The clouds were emitting loud rumbling noises.

Resolutely, I boarded the bus and disembarked near Dallas Road for a five-minute trot toward Ogden Point. I noticed uneasily that the Sooke Hills were vanishing. I smelt the rain before it began to spit around me. I hurried into the Breakwater Cafe for a comfort break before a long Shakespearean sit, and emerged into curtains of water -- more Ottawa-style precipation than Victoria. The Resident Fan Boy and I refer to such downpours as "shoe-fillers".

Cowering under my umbrella, I searched the surrounding area for a tent and saw several, including those being hastily packed up by merchants. I asked one or two for directions and was told: "Down there, if they've decided to go through with it."

They had, indeed. I joined The Tempest in full swing with the hapless passengers of a shipwreck looking suitably drenched, having to make their exits and entrances from outside the shelter. I use the word "shelter" advisedly. The audience was being steadily dripped on, and alarming balloons of water were appearing in the overhanging canvas. The cast were slipping improvised watery witticisms into the text and my neighbour kept draining her umbrella into my lap.

Reluctantly, I decided to depart at intermission, but you couldn't say that the production lacked atmosphere.

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