This post is going to be mainly about the production of As You Like It at Stratford, but I couldn't let today pass - 3rd August 2009 - without mentioning that it is publication day for Troubadour! UK jacket shown on left, It comes out in the US in a couple of weeks with a different look.
If you aren't a writer reading this, you probably think publication days are full of flowers and parties but it isn't like that. I did whinge a bit on Facebook and then got sent lots of congratulatory messages and even an electronic card with virtual champagne and balloons but the day itself has been much like any other.
I have wasted too much time on Social Networking sites, tried to dislodge cats from my lap and reinstate the laptop, written and received e-mails and done the shopping. Oh and I had a swim first thing but that's a Monday morning ritual not a publication day one. My lovely agent DID remember and send an e-mail though, as did one of my dedicatees.
It's funny: you have this date in your mind for so long, in relation to edits, copy edits, blurbs, press releases etc and then, by the time it actually comes along, you can't believe that no-one but you, your family, agent and publisher, have seen it till now. And by then you have written another book - two in my case - and are working on yet another.
Now, As You Like It. We went to the RSC production at Stratford, directed by Michael Boyd, who is RSC Director and mastermind of the marvellous Histories that domianted last year and much of the year before. Katy Stephens was a very good Rosalind, especially as Ganymede, and Richard Katz (Touchstone) and Forbes Masson (Jacques) were ourstanding in parts that often suffer from our over-familiarity with them.
Masson in particularly, who made quite an impression on us in the Histories, proved able to sing in an eery falsetto. But JonJo O'Neill was very disappointing as Orlando (and he's a great actor) and the production itself was distracting and annoying.
They started off in Elizabethan dress - puzzingly in inky black at the court, since no-one had died - then transmuted to more and more modern clothes in the "Forest" of Arden, ending up with Audrey in a white mini-skirt and four inch heels for her wedding. There was not a twig or leaf to suggest Arden - only an incongruous heap of straw.
I had been warned about the rabbit-skinning and -beheading business between Corin and Touchstone at the beginning of the second half, so used the handy A4 sized programme to hide behind.
But what was really disappointing was that Boyd seemed to equate pastoral with jolly idyllic romps and had determined to discover the "dark side" of the play by setting it in the bleak mid-winter. Couldn't he trust his source a bit more than that? Long-headed fellow that W. Shakespeare.
Talking of the dark side, I've started reading Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels. And have just finished Guantanamo Boy, which I'm reviewing for Armadillo.