Sublime to the Ridiculous: Stratford to Silverstone

16 Jun

“There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.”

I’m sure you have favourite Shakespeare quotes. Pithy one or two-liners litter his plays and are as apt today, more than four hundred years later, as when he penned them. I knew the first two lines by heart having heard them used so often, but couldn’t have told you which play they were from. Now I can. Last night we experienced a gifted all black cast of the Royal Shakespeare Company perform “Julius Caesar” in the Royal Stratford Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Paterson Joseph as Marcus Brutus delivered those powerful lines.

Directed by Gregory Doran, this production has Shakespeare’s Rome come to life in Africa. Doran cleverly harnesses the movement, vibrancy, body language, humour and music of Africa to tell this tragic tale of power hungry men. Whether ‘JC’ is read as Shakespeare’s covert articulation of concerns about the succession of the ageing, childless English Queen Elizabeth, or applied to today’s warlords in unstable Afghanistan, the themes of ambition, loyalty, honour, nationhood and bravery are universal and timeless. The play prompted me to recall the political assassination of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd by his ambitious deputy, Julia Gilliard. That was ‘JC’ minus the blood.

We started this week in Bristol, an overnight stop after the Bordeaux-Bristol flight. The city canalside bars and restaurants were quiet. We found a waterside spot for a drink in the evening sun then enjoyed a meal at Watershed. It’s a huge barn of a place above the cinemas with tables overlooking the water. They’ve been going for thirty years and we could see why with value for money meals, friendly service and free wifi. And of course we had to visit the Clifton Suspension Bridge up close (but not too close). The Samaritan sign is a good idea but what if you don’t have a mobile on you when you’re contemplating that final leap? I think a free hotline might be more useful.

Now we’re in Ilmington, Cotswold Country, all sheep, green fields and church bells, just eight miles from Stratford. Our accommodation is essentially a granny flat attached to a modern house. No complaints, it’s comfortable and clean and at 255 pounds for four nights exceptional value. The location was chosen for its iconic country walks and proximity to Silverstone racing circuit. We hiked a beautiful section of the Cotswold Way on the one fine day we had this week and we have tickets for tomorrow’s Motorcycle Grand Prix (in a covered stand, the forecast is dire). We’ll be a two person cheer squad for Australian Casey Stoner who retires at the end of the year.

The bonus was the theatre. I was surprised we could get tickets so late.

English pubs have also featured this week of ill weather. We have two nice, old pubs in this village (Stuart is at one now) and loved the Snowshill Arms (where Mothers and Toddlers and a book club coffee morning were going on harmoniously and simultaneously), as well as Mount Inn in Stanton. Pub of the week, however, was the Dirty Duck (Black Swan) in Stratford; not so much for the ale or the food, which was ordinary, but because we sat at a table next to Julius Caesar (Jeffrey Kissoon) who was tucking into his chicken dinner and white wine. I know, I know, why didn’t he have the Caesar Salad?

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2 Responses to “Sublime to the Ridiculous: Stratford to Silverstone”

  1. Michelle Noble June 18, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    Sadly the only 2 lines I remember from studying Julius Caesar for O level English are “Es tu Brutas, then die Caesar”…and “I bite my thumb at you “(apparently VERY rude!). But the productions are pretty spectacular. Bristol is old stomping territory for me – I studied for accountancy exams there working for (then ) Touche Ross in Queen Anne’s Square, a stone’s throw from the Watershed where there was an alternative cinema suite. I lived in Clifton for a few years. An old story goes from the 19th century not long after the bridge was built that a young lady ( Sarah I think) wanted to commit suicide and jumped off; but was saved by her billowing petticoats acting as a parachute!
    Best wishes to you and Stuart. Michelle + Bryan.xx

    • Sharon Tickle June 19, 2012 at 10:13 am #

      Hi Michelle, You can see a film of the same ‘JC’ production we saw this Sunday June 24 at 8pm Brit time on BBC4 if you can get that channel. Worth recording.

      Lovely to hear from you. We seem to have great synchronicity!

      Sxx

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