What Wouldn’t I Do For Shakespeare on the Common? Part 1

I have been attending Commonwealth Shakespeare’s Shakespeare on Boston Common show pretty much since I knew it existed, in 2003 (they’ve actually been doing it since 1996). I have seen their Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, Shrew, Dream, As You Like It, Comedy of Errors, Othello, Coriolanus, and All’s Well That Ends Well.  The only show I missed was the 2005 Hamlet, and as I’ve joked in the past, it haunts me to this day.  

This year thus marked my 10 year anniversary!  The show? Two Gentlemen of Verona.  Ok, I suppose.  On the one hand I’m all, “Eh.  Really?”  But on the other, I’ve never seen the show, so I can add it to my collection.
 My wife and I were supposed to go last week.  The kids were staying over their grandparents for the night anyway, so the timing was perfect.  But when my wife asked what time the show was and I checked the calendar I discovered that they were dark that night, because of some other festival that was sharing the stage.  Drat!
So we arrange to go this past Friday.  It’s been raining off and on all week, but the weather report for Friday says “Early showers” with nothing for the evening. Great.  We pack a picnic.  I’ve got a raincoat with a hood, my wife chooses a fleece.  She figures it may not rain but it will definitely get chilly. 
We hit the road at 5:30pm.  Granted we’re north of Boston and there’s going to be traffic, but still, we should be where we need to be within an hour.  Nope!  Two hours.  Raining the entire time.  It was awful. The things I screamed at the drivers around me, I’m still ashamed of.
The whole time I’m dialing the hotline, checking to see whether the show is still on.  “Still on!” it keeps telling me, despite the fact that we’re coming up on 7:30 for an 8pm show and it’s been raining steadily.  Still, we keep telling ourselves that maybe it’s clear where the show is, so we continue.
We make it all the way in to town, now seriously convinced that the show’s got to be cancelled.  We don’t even bother bringing the picnic basket out of the car, having decided that plan B will be to wander over to a bar/restaurant and get out of the rain.
We get to the Common at about 7:45, still raining.  People standing around with umbrellas.  None of the VIP chairs have been set up.  There’s techs up on stage squeegeeing puddles away.  I ask what’s up, I’m told that they won’t cancel the show until the very last minute, possibly even “doing like they do in baseball” and delaying the start.  I make small talk with the fans around me, trying to decide whether it will be a good or a bad idea to cancel this show.  There’s two shows on Saturday but I am entirely booked for the day, which would leave me only Sunday night as a fallback.  “I’ve only  missed one show in ten years,” I tell the woman I’m talking to, “And that was because I waited until the last weekend and got rained out. And that was Hamlet!”
“We did get to see the Hamlet,” she tells me.  And then, after a pause, “Oh, yeah, that one was really good!”
Son of a ….!!!  Didn’t I tell you it still haunts me?
For the next 45 minutes we sat in the rain.  My wife’s miserable because she doesn’t have a raincoat, so I give her mine.  We haven’t brought our picnic so we have no drinks or food.  All we can do is listen to the conversation around us, most of which consists of, “It’ll clear up any minute, I just know it!  Look on the horizon, it looks clear over there!”
We watch the actors come out and discuss.  Two of them, who I soon learn are Proteus and Valentine, practice their stage combat to see if they’re going to literally kill themselves.
I start offering to my wife that we can leave.  Provided that she understands I simply must return on Sunday, no ifs ands or buts.  She’s a trooper, though, and playing the “We’ve waited this long” card, argues that we can wait until there’s at least a decision.  “We’ll just leave at intermission,” she tells me.  I give her what may have been a pitiful look or a murderous one, I’m not sure.
Then, around maybe 8:30….the rain stops. The show will go on!  Now they have to setup all the stuff that they didn’t setup in the rain, so it’ll be just a littttle bit longer.    I’m dispatched to the car to get the picnic basket.
The show did not start until after 9 :(.  Normally wouldn’t trouble me, but we’ve got a baby sitter at home and now we’re not going to be getting back until approaching 1am.
How was the show?  You’ll have to wait for Part 2! 

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