The Tempest at the Hartford Stage

I’m excited. Every year, it seems, I do the research on Shakespeare plays that are going to be produced in Connecticut – they’re doing Hamlet over here, and the Dream over there, and Much Ado yonder, and oh boy can’t wait! And then every year something happens: I don’t have money for the tickets, I don’t have anyone to go with, I, er, forget … yadda. The end result is that I haven’t seen live Shakespeare in … oh. Since I saw The Tempest with Patrick Stewart in 1995? Unless of course there was a RenFaire play after that. Well. That’s just sad.

This spring I planned to do my income taxes nice and early and drag my sister to see Kevin Spacey in Richard III in New York… oh well.

Still, a couple of months ago I spent an afternoon wandering the web looking for a list of plays coming up in the next months in Connecticut. I did it with a feeling of partly resignation (Eeyore-like, thinking, oh, bother, it’s not going to work out this year either) and partly steely determination (will too).

Steely determination for the win.

There’s still – unbelievably – a little income tax refund money floating around; it usually vanishes like snow in August, somehow, I never quite know how. But not this year! For the heck of it, I checked my list of what’s coming, and saw that the Hartford Stage’s performance of The Tempest is on now – it just began and runs into early June. Well.

I checked the bank balance. Looked okay.

I don’t have anyone to go with, I thought. The only way I would have been able to drag my sister off to see Richard III was Kevin Spacey; nobody else does Shakespeare (or pretty much anything else I love).


I’d best adapt to doing things I want to do by myself if there’s no one in my life who would enjoy them. (Which there isn’t.) I did the RenFaire alone, once – I can do this. While it will lack the fun of shared memories and the ability to turn to someone and say (excitedly or disgustedly) “did you see that?!” … there’s also the positive aspect that I can do whatever I want, when I want to. The last RenFaire trips I took were marvels of concession and adaptation. A scene from Frasier kept running through my head: Niles buys a whippet which is basically Maris in canine form, skinny and haughty and high-strung. The dialogue went something like (In bright tones): “Come back, Girl. (no response) Come back here this instant! (nothing) OHkay.” I could hear myself saying things like “Great, we’ve agreed, we’re going to see this show that starts at 11! This way! OHkay, we have a little time, we can stop at this booth. OHkay, we still have a few minutes, we can stop to watch this performance. OHkay, well, there’s another show at three, maybe we’ll try that one” – that same bright “okay”. When it really wasn’t.

Alone? No “OHkay.”

I bought a ticket for The Tempest.

There was a single seat priced in the mid-range, isolated three in on a staggered row which looks – looks, mind you, on the diagram – like it will have an unobstructed view of the stage from row 7: Not bad. It’s a matinee, so I don’t have to worry about wandering Hartford aimlessly looking for the highway in the dark (did that coming home from seeing Jeff Dunham with my sister – that wasn’t fun, and why was that street blocked off by a row of trashbags anyway?)

I wonder if it will rain on the day I go. I hate driving in the rain, but if it does rain, I will laugh: my cousin and I tried to see The Patrick Stewart Tempest when it was still in Central Park, but we were neophytes to the whole thing and had no idea you have to all but camp out for tickets. We schlepped off to NYC early, but not early enough – and then it started to rain. A lot. A whole lot. We went to the Natural History Museum instead. A bit later he and my sister and I (my sister being interested in Patrick Stewart as well as Kevin Spacey) got tickets for The Patrick Stewart Tempest at the Public Theatre … and it rained. A lot. So twice we tried to see The Tempest in a tempest. I almost hope it does rain.

And as it turns out, Prospero is played by Daniel Davis. The name rang no bells, but the face definitely did, so I Goodsearched, and found this: “Davis played his most famous character, Niles the butler on the television series The Nanny, throughout its run from 1993 to 1999 …” Oh right! And, even better: “Davis also used an English accent as Professor Moriarty in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes ‘Elementary, Dear Data’ and ‘Ship in a Bottle.'” Whee! (He also played the captain of the Enterprise in The Hunt for Red October, which is semi-geeky.) As I recall, he has a wonderful voice; this should be fun.

Maybe this will after all be the year I see live Shakespeare again.

I’m excited.

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