A Shakespearian weekend away
Hello again. This weekend I went to visit a friend of mine in Buckinghamshire. We started off by having lunch at one of her locals, the Red Lion. The weather was gorgeous, so we sat outside, in the beer garden and had our and drinks there. We had brie and bacon sandwiches and bitter shandys. It was then that I realised that I’d forgotten my camera so I’m afraid there are no photos with this blog. Sorry!
However, this weekend was no ordinary weekend. My friend has been volunteering her time running the bar and front of house for a local amateur Shakespeare company, set up outdoors on a beautiful estate. So I was roped in to help! After a long and lazy lunch, we drove over to the estate and set up the bar. Before long, people were coming in, ordering drinks and having picnics in the grounds.
When the play (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) began, my friend surprised me with a free seat so I could watch the play. The performance was very strong and the amateurs were excellent – most had already done some acting before, so they all knew their lines and where to stand. The costumes were amazing, especially Oberon’s (the king of the fairies) who wore a long cloak made of peacock’s feathers. At the interval, however, I went back to the bar to give my friend a hand. It was quite busy then but it wasn’t too bad and luckily my mental arithmetic held up!
After the interval, I slipped back into my seat and watched the play. The director had obviously allowed the actors some leeway as they were exceptionally funny at times. The spectators were in fits of laughter and enjoyed themselves immensely, as did I.
Here’s a quick synopsis: The play is about Hermia who has refused her father’s choice of suitor, Demetrius, because she loves another man, Lysander. Her refusal is punishable by law so she and Lysander elope. Before they go, they tell Hermia’s childhood friend Helena what they plan to do. However, Helena is head-over-heels in love with Demetrius.
Meanwhile, Oberon, the king of fairies, enlists the help of his mischievous sidekick, Puck, to find a love-potion so that he may enchant Queen Titania and have her fall in love with him. Oberon overhears Demetrius disparage Helena, so he instructs Puck to administer the love-potion on Demetrius, too.
Puck makes a mistake, though, and administers the love-potion onto Lysander’s eyelids. (The love-potion makes the recipient fall in love with the first person they see when they wake up.) Unfortunately, the first person he sees when he awakes is Helena and he falls madly and spontaneously in love with her, much to Helena’s bewilderment.
Meanwhile, some local artisans are rehearsing a play. Mischievous Puck transforms the head of the weaver into that of a donkey and the weaver’s friends flee in terror. Titania, upon receiving the love-potion, wakes up and sees the weaver (with the head of a donkey) and immediately falls in love with him!
Oberon finds out that Puck has enchanted Lysander instead of Demetrius and tells Puck to make amends. Puck therefore administers the potion onto Demetrius who also falls in love with Helena! Hermia is angry when she finds out that both Lysander and Demetrius are in love with her friend. The two men decide to duel for Helena’s love but luckily Puck intervenes (he is mischievous but not a bad fairy) and the two men escape without injury.
That evening, Puck administers more love-potion onto Lysander which reverses the spell. Oberon then removes Titania’s enchantment and the King and Queen make amends. The four lovers (Helens, Demetrius, Hermia and Lysander) are now happily in love with the right person but at a loss to explain how they got so mixed up and wonder if it had all been a midsummer night’s dream.
At the end of the performance, the audience and the actors congregated at the bar where my friend and I had another busy time serving the customers. We finally closed the bar and left at around 1 a.m.
On Sunday morning (today) we got up late and went to the cafe (pronounced caff in English) across the road from my friend’s house for a slap-up full monty. Then all too soon I had to catch my train back to Pompey, having regretfully turned down a very kind offer of a barbecue lunch. I had to get back to study for my test on Monday.
Goodbye for now, from your teacher-student-barmaid!
locals A local is a pub (bar) which is near your home and which you go to regularly. In my last blog I posted a picture of the Milton Arms, my old local.
beer garden A beer garden is simply a small garden usually at the rear of the pub where you can sit and drink outside when the weather is good - and no, Lukasz, it's not just for three days in the summer!
bitter shandys A bitter is a type of beer and you can have it as a shandy, that is mixed with lemonade.
front of house This is a theatrical term, referring to the part of the building that is open to the public. In theatre and live music venues, it typically refers to the auditorium and foyer, as opposed to the stage and backstage areas.
estate An estate is a piece of property, usually a large one with an elaborate house on it. It can also mean a housing development but here I am talking of the first variety.
roped in To rope in comes from a cowboy term where you catch the cows or bulls with a lasso. It can also mean to lure or entice, sometimes through deception.
fairies A fairy is a supernatural being, usually in a diminutive human form and has magical powers with which it can intervene in human affairs.
cloak It is a loose outer garment, like a cape or coat.
peacock it is a bird with a greenish, iridescent tail marked with spots. The tail can be spread open in a fan.
interval Another word for intermission, the half-time between acts of a play.
give my friend a hand This means to give someone a helping hand, or to give someone some help. You can use the expression with or without the word 'helping'.
mental arithmetic This is mathematics that you do in your head, without a calculator or using your fingers!
held up To hold up is to maintain a position or condition or to endure something. It can also mean to stop or delay. A hold up is a robbery, usually in a bank where a robber shouts "This is a hold up!" or stick up, which means s/he is going to rob the bank and everyone must put their hands up.
leeway If you have some leeway, you have extra time or space within which to operate.
fits of laughter This is when you laugh so much you can't stop.
suitor A suitor is an old-fashioned word for a man who courts a woman.
elope To elope is to run away, usually as lovers. my husband and I eloped to Las Vegas where we were married!
head-over-heels If you fall head-over-heels in love, you are falling madly and passionately in love.
enlists To enlist someone is to get them to help you. It can also mean to join the army so be careful which meaning you use!
mischievous sidekick If you are mischievous you are teasing and playful. You like to play tricks on people. A sidekick is someone who is a close friend or assistant.
enchant To enchant someone is to subject them to magical influence or to bewitch them.
overhears To overhear is to hear another person's conversation, usually without intent. To eavesdrop is to listen to other people's conversations on purpose, without them seeing you.
disparage To disparage someone is to speak of or treat them badly.
administers To administer something is to give or apply in a formal way or to apply something as a remedy, like a doctor does. In this instance, it is the latter meaning.
recipient The receiver of something.
spontaneously Suddenly, without warning.
bewilderment To be bewildered is to be confused.
artisans An artisan is a person skilled in an applied art or a craftsperson.
weaver A weaver is an artisan. S/he creates things out of different materials, such as a thatcher, who weaves reeds or straw to make a roof.
flee To run away, usually out of fear.
make amends To compensate for an injury, loss, or insult.
duel A duel is a fight between two people.
spell A word, phrase, or form of words supposed to have magic power. Synoyms: charm or incantation.
at a loss If you're at a loss about something, you are in a state of bewilderment or uncertainty, puzzled or perplexed.
congregated To congregate is to come together or assemble, especially in large numbers. A congregation is a group of church-goers.
slap-up full monty A slap-up meal is an in formal way to say a meal was first rate or excellent. A full monty is slang for the whole thing, everything that is wanted or needed. If you ask for the full monty in an English caff, you'll get a typical English breakfast which consists of a fried egg, fried bread or toast, sausages, baked beans in tomato sauce, grilled tomatoes, bacon, mushrooms and sometimes hash browns (crisp-fried potatoes made by dicing, chopping, or mashing boiled potatoes and browning them in hot fat or oil). Yum!
Thanks for all your contributions. This blog has now closed and can no longer accept new comments.