A strange weekend, yet notable mainly for its normality. I hope using the old 'Mars' slogan will not cause me to drift into sickly sweet musings (though I fear I can never make such guarantees), but instead give me distinctions like the layers of chocolate, caramel and nougat to add variations of flavour.
To begin with work: I have been slow this weekend - with more going on in my head than on paper. There are always these moments in creation - of speculation and cogitation, where the idea is mulled like wine, spiced with purpose, laced with style and warmed with form. Yet gradually notions have become images, and images have become decisions, and decisions have become a lingering frustration to get on and do it - a restlessness that comes when thought is not given shape and made tangible.
From this urge to work has come the finishing touches to a work in progress - one I was anxious to complete yet feared to drive through to its culmination; anticipating the disastrous stroke that rips through satisfaction and cuts hope into confetti. Filled with the desire to do something worthwhile, however, I rolled up my sleeves, took a breath, and waved away the anxiety with my brushes.
What had brought this sense of paralysis (you ask)? Well, illness mainly, which has nagged away through the week, ensuring that my concentration has been needed for more mundane focus; and to be frank, I've spent more time in bed than I should have. The results have not been all bad though - I'm impressed by the addition of cardamom, cinnamon and cloves to honey and lemon (and whiskey - and yes I used bourbon), and I spent a blissful few hours stretched on the sofa, cat curled up on my lap, and wife tucked into my side.
I do have to say that this scenario makes sleeping feel enriched - like malt loaf; there I lie thickly buttered, and with the comforting density of space that gives a sweet stickiness and depth of flavour to the ordinary experience. I will quite happily give too much of my time to this state of idleness, as it somehow feels like an extension of connection - as if I share the speculation of the subconscious with my fellow dream walkers, both spouse and feline (Which may explain why I eye the birds outside differently after such a nap?).
We did eventually rouse ourselves, to go to the theatre: the RSC and As You Like It , directed by Maria Aberg. Now I've have seen a fair few of Ol' Shakey's plays before - including this one, so I can handle the language - in fact I'd say I delight in it, but I'm firmly of the view that he was a playwright and his poetry is a part of the play - not the point of it. This tends to mean I like it when a director considers the relationship with the audience then and there, and can recognise when the play needs to straddle the centuries, or when an actor can hold the stage alone. Previous viewing of this play had left me confused, a little bored, and I think I nodded off a bit (doing that thing when you wake up, panic, then look around hopping you didn't snore); but this one was impressive: well conceived, powerfully acted - engaging the audience, a lovely musical score, and set and lighting I loved. In fairness they were playing to my weaknesses with expressionistic noir shadows casting strong lines across the stage and the actors, then shifting to the Forrest morphing the structure of the set through lighting angles and tones from the darkness of the court to the carnival of imagination and play that the woods gave us. Using dance and music to aid the transitions gave us the celebration and lightness of touch that this comedy, which followed one of Shakespeare's twisty, windy plot knots, needed so that the audience did not dwell on the rationale and use of coincidence that his lighter plays often hang upon.
I know the RSC raises questions: about arts provision and subsidy, and about privilege and establishment control of art and culture, and that some of its output works better than others, and even about whether this is the best way to approach theatre (never mind Shakespeare)? But when it works it transports and reinvigorates a play into a performance for a modern world.
What I loved, though, was the world of play that was created, the world of whimsy and art; a world where objects are transformed by use; where music is spontaneous (yet immaculately rehearsed and harmonised); where words are bandied and struggled with , and where pictures are painted by bodies, costumes, lights and levels.
All in all its been a full weekend, chewy and rich, and I think... uh, mmm, yeah... I've still got a little bit stuck in my teeth, mmmmm.