Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Day I was an Obnoxious Fan

Yesterday, I went with my dad, his wife, and my sister to Stratford to see two Shakespeare plays. Two Shakespeare plays may be too many for one day. I only say this because when Daniel toddled into my bedchamber and awoke me this morning, I cried out,

“Who durst awaken me from mine gentle slumber!”

We saw Julius Caesar and Macbeth.

Both plays were well done and though I’m certainly no theater critic, I will say that I’m tired of directors setting Shakespeare plays in alternate time periods. Shakespeare was not a science-fiction writer, after all. Macbeth was set in 1950’s Africa and there were very loud machine guns which, quite frankly, frightened me. The actors, however, only spoke about slaying one another with swords and constantly referred to Scotland.

I don’t know WHAT time period they were tried to sell in Julius Caesar, but there were boomsticks in that play, too. Look, people. We all know Caesar was a historical figure who lived before the advent of advanced weaponry, so COME ON! I’m all for creativity, but toga/ Cold War Soviet attire? It’s kind of silly.

They were both bloody plays, and sitting toward the front, I could smell the blood. Strangely, it smelled like hand sanitizer and I felt kind of a buzz after inhaling its fumes.

In Julius Caesar, Ben Carlson played the part of the complicated Brutus. He was brilliant. This is the first time I’ve ever seen the play, and perhaps you have seen it or at least read the Cliff Notes in the tenth grade or something, anyway here is what struck me… why on earth did Brutus and the other senators allow Marc Antony to talk at Caesar’s funeral? And why oh why didn’t ONE of them stay and listen to his speech? I thought Cassius was supposed to be kind of a smarty-pants. Friends, Romans, and countrymen… we could’ve put the kebosh on the whole second act if Brutus had kept a tighter leash on Antony. Really.

I have a crush on the actor Ben Carlson. John knows about this and he’s accepted it, as he does most of my crushes, so don’t worry about him. After all, he has Regina Spektor.

I don’t generally have crushes on celebrities (not that Ben Carlson’s quite a celebrity) but rather fictional characters from television, film, or books. My crushes include but are not limited to: Jim from The Office, Sawyer from Lost, the Weekend Update reporter on SNL, Jack Bauer, Dr. House, Hawkeye as played by Daniel Day Lewis, Spiderman, Superman, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Rochester, and Han Solo.

A few years back, I saw the Bernard Shaw play Man and Superman at the Shaw Festival. Ben Carlson played the role of Jack Tanner, who gives, I believe, more lines in a single play than any other character in any play every performed. (It is a long play. John fell asleep.) Ben Carlson did not miss a line. He was funny and charming and witty and adorable and I was smitten.

On Saturday, I chose to see him in Julius Caesar instead of going to see West Side Story, which has received rave reviews, so now you know the depth of my devotion.

Guess what? I finally came face to face with Ben Carlson. He was walking toward us on the street after we left the theater. With the encouragement of my supportive family, I approached him and said, “Mr. Carlson? Would you mind signing an autograph for me?” He was very gracious and said he would. I also asked if he might pose for a picture with me. He did! It was all very civil.

Things went downhill from there. I put my arm around him for the picture and gave him a sloppy kiss on the cheek. I blurted out that I had a huge crush on him and that I myself could have been a great actress if I had put any effort into it. (I did not mention the fact of my husband or my 4 children. For shame!) I then broke away and stood atop my father's car and passionately recited Portia’s courtroom monologue from The Merchant of Venice. Because you never know... perhaps I could impress and become a Stratford leading lady. When I was finished, Ben Carlson was nowhere to be found, but there was quite a crowd of tourists gathered around me snapping pictures and laughing. I went with it and sang “The Star Spangled Banner” which was another mistake because we were in Canada.

Okay. The parts that are true are: I did put my arm around him, which seemed like a good idea and then felt awkward, and I did say, “I have such a crush on you,” to which he replied, “Oh no. I’m so sorry.” My stepmother snapped like seven pictures and then we let him go on his way, waiting until he was at least fifteen feet past us before we started giggling like schoolchildren.

So, here’s the thing. I told you I didn’t swoon. But, apparently, I do gush. I’m a gusher. Normally, I gush at appropriate times, like when confronted with a round-faced infant, but, on occasion, I act like an idiot and gush in admiration of (for shame!) an actor.

I must go now. I’m brushing up on lines from The Tempest, in case I should meet Ben (great first name) again. Here’s a passage fitted for our next meeting…

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits, and

Are melted into air, into thin air:

And like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on; and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.

I continue to play around with photos on I was going for... timeless. Though I swear to you, my second chin would not be so pronounced if it weren't for the angle of the shot. Remember the camera adds ten chin pounds.

Is not Ben handsome?


MGBR said...

Ha! Now we know the *real* reason you chose the name "Ben." ;-)

Chris F said...

Poor Johnny- Ben's got a dimple and a cleft's any man supposed to compete with that?

Claudia Jabieski said...

Eric Bana..... *sigh*

Anonymous said...

Um...fine. Although I must defend myself on one point. I will admit that I took a short nap while attending a performance of "Man and Superman." But you need to know the following facts:

1. The play lasts approximately 8 hours when you include intermissions. Usually when it is performed, the third act is ommitted because it is incredibly time-consuming.

2. The Wikipedia entry on the play describes the third act as "a philosophical debate between Don Juan (played by the same actor who plays Jack Tanner), and the Devil (Mendoza, a Spaniard), with Doña Ana (Ann) and the Statue of Ana's guardian (Roebuck Ramsden, an aged acquaintance of Tanner's and Ann's Guardian) looking on."

3. When, in the midst of an 8 hour play, you look up onstage and see a grown man in a beard dressed as a child, sitting atop a giant tricycle, discussing (ardent socialist Bernard Shaw's views on) philosophy with the Devil, you can either (1) run screaming from the room; (2) consume a large quantity of alcohol; or (3) take a little snooze and try to dream about baseball.

That is all I will say about this post.

- John

Holly said...

Some people just don't get high art.

APB said...

Or maybe it's just that some people's attention spans are better suited to Saturday Night Live than to Shakespeare or Shaw.

ShellyFrank said...

Just so we have things straight...Jim from the Office is mine:)
Don't want to have some crazy fight at New Year's....although, that prob would be exciting....

Josh said...

What is it with Sawyer from Lost? I had a girlfriend who was hopelessly in love with him. He's completely self-absorbed and doesn't listen to anyone. I tried to mimic these traits and the relationship dissolved. I can't grow a beard tho...perhaps that was the problem