Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The sun shines on the Shakespeare line

Hamish Linklater and Jesse Tyler Ferguson in "The Comedy of Errors"
The weather has been terrible around here, with tennis rained out every day last week.

So it was with some concern about whether the show would go on that I headed to New York Friday for our fourth annual trip to Shakespeare in the Park, presented outdoors at the Delacorte Theater. Katie said that even if it rained, she would sit on the line awaiting the free tickets in the hopes that it would clear up by the 8:30 p.m. curtain. But we were pleasantly surprised. It was sunny all day Saturday, although it was miserably hot, especially when we walked on the baked pavement.

Katie and me on the Shakespeare line
Having stayed over Friday night with my cousin Jeanne, we decided we had better get up earlier than usual because it was a Saturday and also the last weekend of "The Comedy of Errors." So we got up at 6:15 a.m. I had bought muffins the day before, but we didn't even stop for coffee. Carrying two chairs plus our supplies, we got to the line at 7 a.m., about an hour earlier than usual. Even at that early hour, we were about three-quarters of the way back. After we got settled, I asked the first person on line what time he had gotten there. He said he was at the park entrance at 10 p.m. and spent the night waiting to enter at 6 a.m. Craaaaaazy.

Walking up and down the line, you see people playing games on tray tables, people who actually brought an inflatable mattress, and of course people with folding chairs and blankets. A scattering of dogs actually sat quietly on a blanket. Mine would not do that!

Staffers patrol the line on the alert for people who break the cardinal rule: No leaving the park. They see everything. A woman behind us did leave the park, and when she returned, a staffer told her she could not get a ticket. Luckily for her, everyone gets two tickets, and her friend got one for her.

Since the café did not open on time at 8 for coffee, a couple of us got permission to search for coffee outside of the park. On my way back to tell Katie I was leaving, I passed a group of people drinking Starbucks coffee from a box. When I asked them where they got it, they offered me a cup. Who said New Yorkers aren't friendly?

Our five hours went by quickly. With about 15 minutes to go until they gave out the tickets at noon, the call came to pack up. As the line started to move, we couldn't close one of the chairs, and a gap opened up in front of us. "Leave them behind! Leave them behind!" came a voice from the front of the line. We grabbed the open chair and closed the gap. Phew!

Oh, you might wonder, how was the play?

At 90 intermissionless minutes, this early Shakespeare work about mistaken identities was fast and fun. Chaos ensues when two pairs of separated twins end up in the same place. The play is set in upstate New York in the 1940s, with the Duke becoming a mobster speaking in Brooklynese and the other characters following suit, leading to Shakespeare like most of us have never seen or heard before.

Unlike in most productions, each set of twins is played by one actor racing on and off the stage, with Hamish Linklater playing Antipholus of Syracuse and Antipholus of Ephesus, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson playing the servant to each man.

Ferguson has frequently performed at Shakepeare in the Park, but I only started paying close attention to him since becoming a fan of "Modern Family," in which he plays Mitchell. It's fun to see an actor you know from TV metamorphose into something entirely different.

I'd do it all over again to see the next show, a musical version of "Love's Labours Lost" playing July 23 through Aug. 18. Alas, I might not have recovered from my July 25 surgery by then, but we will see.


Diana Louise Carter said...

What an adventure! Now I see how that line can be a real New York tradition.
Still wondering how they managed the confrontation when the twins finally meet?

Ronni Gordon said...

I was wondering the same thing. At the very last moment when it was dark out, two look-a-likes approached the stage and could mostly be seen from behind. On stage they kind of kept their heads bowed. It worked pretty well.

Nelle said...

I saw Jesse do a commercial for this and it peaked me interest. I am also a fan of Modern Family. I think it's wonderful that you do this. Hope you can make the next show!