Tuesday: after an appallingly hot day, an evening picnic (pea, leek and mint frittata: chicken and apricot salad; and raspberry bakewell tart: all made by my own fair hands) in the botanical gardens, followed by a lively performance of Taming of the Shrew. The cool change had come in and by the end of the evening I had wrapped the picnic blanket over my knees, and those of my parents. As night darkened, the stage was beautifully lit against a backdrop of cypress and eucalypts. Possums appeared in the trees; flying foxes flew above us; and moths circled in the floodlights. But what a difficult play it is. This was a fairly "straight" comic production, with a nod to the cross-dressing Rufus Sewell BBC version. Oh, what the hell: why shouldn't we have a picture here?
But really: surely this play should put an end to the idea of Shakespeare as the man for all seasons and times kind of thing? I think there are a number of ways around its difficult politics: something allegorical about the accommodations required in all marriages, perhaps. Or something about the deliberately provocative final speech, delivered by a boy in women's clothes? something like the envoi in Chaucer's Clerk's Tale? But none of these rationalisations is straightforward! Anyway, lots of discussion as people made their way to their cars. If Shakespeare's plan was to get men and women talking to each other, it worked!
Last night, a different kind of Melbourne event. We booked tickets for the tennis a few days ago, not knowing who'd be playing, and really lucked out to be part of the jubilant, warm, excited crowd that welcomed Jelena Dokic back into its arms. The poor girl still looks dreadfully troubled, even damaged, but the crowd was willing to recognise the struggle she has had with her father and all (and is of course desperate to find an Australian tennis champion). And she played brilliantly, and emotionally, narrowly losing the second set in a tie-break, but eventually edging out the No. 17 seed. We all screamed and yelled. Joel was at first very disapproving of any applause of poor play by Anna Chakvetadze, but was soon yelling out "c'mon Jelena" with the rest of us. We were part of a record crowd for a single day of any Grand Slam event. We got there around 5, and caught fragments of a few matches that were finishing up; feasted on gourmet sausages (my lads); and nori rolls and rice paper rolls (me and Paul's mother), before we headed up to the fourth back row of the stadium. But who cared? The atmosphere was electric, and our sight of the court fantastic. I've half a mind to go again next week.
Tonight it was time to stay home, and chill out. One of Joel's friends had lent him the Julie Tamar film, Across the Universe. Here's the trailer:
A wonderful, wonderful film, though probably much better on a big screen. But in your loungeroom, you can sing along. I'm going out tomorrow to buy a copy of Abbey Road.