Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Day Six is it? Yeah, six

Started off early today (before 11:00!) and headed off to the half-price ticket booth to see if we couldn't pick up cheap tickets to something tonight.  Lots of shows I didn't want to see -- and one I did.  Debra wasn't interested -- probably because my description of the play in question was rather limited.  ("It's by Christopher Hampton," I said, hoping she would know who the hell he was.  I knew that I had the name filed away under "pretty good playwright who has written something we've heard of, which might have been Les Liaisons Dangereuses, but I'm not positive that was it and I don't want to guess wrong in front of this whole line of tourists."  Was, in fact, Les Liaisons -- and its film adaptation.  Oops.)  In any event, I bought a ticket to Treats, the Christopher Hampton play.  (I'd thought it was a new play -- I discovered -- when looking him up just now -- that the play was written in 1974.  It is much more satisfying if I think of it as a 1974 play.  More on that later.  Oh, and this probably counts as a spoiler alert if you're ever going to find yourself seeing the play.)

So, ticket in hand, Debra and I hit the wild streets of London.  We drop by some shops (including the Theatre shop that had been closed on Sunday) and then head out to Marble Arch.  (Great big arch.  Marble.)  Debra had wanted to look at it, while I wanted to go to a nearby Department Store, so it seemed a fair plan to do both.

The Department store was ... OK, this is just so incredibly British (or, at any rate, not-American), I just had to check it out.  There's going to be this great big surrealist exhibit at a local museum (the exhibit is not yet open, dammit) and in conjunction with the exhibit, the department store has, um, gone surrealist.  All the store windows are decorated with surrealist displays (by "some of the world's most contemporary surreal designers"); a restaurant in the store had gone with the theme (renaming all dishes for surrealist art works, and redecorating the furniture to go with the theme); and they've added a small surreal shop, where they've promised such bizarre items as mirrored nail polish.

I want the mirrored nail polish.

We checked out the window displays, scoped out the shop, went tothe surreal restaurant for lunch (that experience actually was surreal, in a different way.  I ordered afternoon tea, which includes finger sandwiches along with tea and scones.  Debra ordered a chicken dish.  Sorry, they're out of chicken.  Then she ordered a salad.  Sorry, no salads.  She gave up and ordered afternoon tea.  The waitress returned to inform us both that they were out of finger sandwiches.  She offered us the four sandwiches du jour -- ham & cheese, crayfish, cheese & pickles, or salmon.  I ordered the salmon, Debra went for the cheese & pickles.  Waitress returns and says, "We're out of salmon."  At this point, Debra and I looked over to the people standing in line for the restaurant and said, "Go away!  They're out of food!")

Surreal shop informs me that they will, in fact, be carrying the mirror nail polish, but they don't have it in stock yet.  (Lovely.  I can just come back next week.  Not.)

Debra heads off to the National Portrait Gallery; I go off to meet my friend (who lives in England and conveniently had a meeting in London that night -- so she came in a few hours earlier to visit me and, apparently, talk dirty in Regent's Park).

After a supper of "steak and mushroom pie" (and a smaller quantity of cider), I head off to the play.  Disturbing little story about a woman in an abusive relationship, who is given a golden opportunity to get the hell out of the abusive relationship, and is so mentally messed up by the abuser, she just stays.  I found the play, well, unsatisfying -- but now that I know it was written in 1974, I'll cut it a bit more slack.  The production I saw took place in the present day, and, now, knowing what we know about abusive relationships, I found it problematic that the, er, "good guy" didn't, y'know, grab the police, bust down the woman's door, get the abusive boyfriend thrown in jail, and take the woman to a battered woman's shelter.  I mean, hell, my generation was brought up knowing that you just don't put up with that sort of crap in a relationship -- and I'd like to think that most young people today (the characters here were in their 20s) should also know that this just is not tolerated.  But, now, seeing that the play was actually written in 1974 -- when theresources for battered women were much fewer than they are today (and many more people turned a blind eye to domestic violence), it makes a great deal more sense.  Still unsettling.  But mostly just sad.

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