My wife and I have just returned from Stratford, Ontario, where we spent Friday and Saturday staying in a very posh hotel, eating very good food, shopping and seeing the preview performances of A Comedy of Errors and King Lear at the Stratford Festival.
And to make the weekend perfect, we left the little one behind in the tender care first of a very good friend of mine then of my wife's mother. Both are excellent caregivers and knowing that they were looking after our child enabled us to relax and enjoy the weekend.
And because I'm in the mood for it, here's a quick review of everything we did:
We stayed in the Annex Inn, which was very posh indeed. The price was high, but the room had a king-sized bed, fireplace, whirlpool tub, and a comfortable sitting area for post-show chats and reading. It was definitely worth the price and we may well be staying there again when we go next year, if we can swing it.
Bentley's: Good food and nice folks. I stuck to pub grub, Sara had the pasta. Both were excellent. And they make a nice Bruschetta.
Fellini's: Our favourite place to eat in Stratford. We have never had a bad meal there and this time was no exception. Their pasta is some of the best I've tasted, and their lunch special was exactly the right size. My wife had the mussels, which were equally good. And they give you wonderful bread.
The Church: Food as art. Dinner there cost as much as the first night at the hotel. I will probably not spend that much money on a meal again in the next five years. A beautiful restaurant, gourmet food, excellent service. Try the scallops in linear and cubist forms.
Foster's Inn: Both breakfasts. Had the Eggs Benedict both times. Nothing beats a home-made hollandaise sauce.
Let Them Eat Cake: We stopped there for scones to start our morning (we're both early risers, and wanted nibbles to tide us over until breakfast. Excellent scones.
A Comedy of Errors: A good production of what is arguably one of Shakespeare's funniest plays. It is a farce, and was played as such. Director Richard Monette chose to set his play in classical Syracuse, then completely ignored the period to very good effect. This play was his Shakespearean swan song (he is leaving his position of Artistic Director this year) and was filled with enough festival in-jokes to keep the regulars rolling in the aisles. Those of us who aren't festival regulars still enjoyed it. If there was one complaint about this show, it is that Monette allowed the glitz and the tricks to overwhelm the text, to the detriment of the production (I should mention that many consider that to be his trademark).
King Lear: Directed by Brian Bedford, this is an instance where trusting the text led to a magnificent production. The production was stark, simple, and brilliant. The acting was supurb for the most part, though I found both Edmund and Cordelia to be slightly one-note (they were good notes, but still...). Bedford was supposed to be playing Lear, which I was greatly anticipating. Instead, we had his understudy, John Innes (and we think Bedford was playing one of the serving men, the sneaky so and so). John Innes acquitted himself brilliantly and deserved the standing ovation he received.
All in all it was a great weekend, a great way to recharge, and on Monday, it is back to work. I'm looking forward to it.
And speaking of work, time to do some writing.