This week the theater department at Utah State invited a company of actors to perform and give workshops about Shakespeare. The play they performed was, Much Ado about Nothing. This is the second production I have seen of it. The first being in London by the RSC back in 2002. The RSC production transplanted the setting to 1940s Tuscany. It was a beautiful production that was well acted and envisioned. I am always hesitant to see a play twice, especially when I have seen a good production of it. But, I figured there are so many ways one can interpret the bard so I would give it a chance.
The Actors of the London Stage, is exactly what it sounds like, a company of actors from "London" (One of the actors admitted he was from Birmingham). Yet, the begins of the company strangely originate in Indiana, Notre Dame to be precise.Intriguingly there were only five actors to perform the entire play. Now it sounds less natural then the actual presentation was but the five actors were able to, for the most part, effortlessly transition into playing multiple characters on a bare stage with relatively little props.
The five actors were decent with the exception of one woman. The actor who played Beatrice, Don John, Balthazar, and Dogberry's assistant was so enthralling I found myself developing a bit of an obsession with her. Now, that sounds unhealthy but, I think every now and again its OK to be intrigued by a highly talented individual. At least that's my justification and I'm sticking with it. I think the quality of her voice is what caused me to be most enamored with her acting. I can only describe it was honey for the ears. Her range was a deep alto. I am convinced that she could have made a script reading of the classic, bearable if not enjoyable. I guess she played Tash on Holby City for three years. Is that a big deal?
As is the case with heroes, idols, crushes, I needed to meet her but was to embarrassed to admit my infatuation to her. I didn't want her to think I was a stalker. So, after the show, I went down to the hallway where the dressing rooms that the actors would be exiting from were located. And then pretended to be looking for something. Then trying to act nonchalant I struck up conversations with other members of the theater department I saw in the hallway. I think there was a tone of desperation in my desire to talk because I could see it reflected in my co-conversationist's face.
"Oh let me introduce myself. I'm Jeff I'm in the department."
Then the various actors introduced themselves. The problem was I hadn't really thought out what to do next and it got quiet, real quiet. "Where are you from in England?" I ask. "We're from London," answers Jo one of the actors who plays Hero and Leonato.
"You Idiot!! They're the actors from the LONDON Stage. Then in an attempt to save everything I blurt out,"I went to England last summer, Northampton." This feeling sinks in, I've become that guy. The guy that makes everything about them and thinks they no everything about a place because they spent a month there last summer. I am surprised I didn't ask if they knew Amry and Dave. You know the type of people that find out you're from America and ask if you know someone in Ohio. The conversation slowly fizzled out and I left dejected. I didn't even get to talk to my crush. She just sat silent and aloof.
The next day I went to do taxes at the library. After finishing I started to walk to my car. It was a lovely evening and the sky was a burnt orange and to my right walking with a cigarette rested between two lips was the siren herself. As we approached the crossroads. I felt as if fate had created this moment. She didn't notice me or ignored me so I cupped my hand around my mouth and said "break a leg." She looked surprised at first and then smiled in a genuine and appreciative way. She said, "Thank you very much." Then we walked on to our separate destinies. And that was it. I felt good about our interaction and hoped she knew how much her performance had moved me.