Saturday, February 17, 2007

Ashland, Oregon in the Winter

February 17, 2007
It is our anniversary weekend. Ron and I were married on 2/18/1989 in St. Helena, CA at the Landor estate. We are celebrating our 18 married years by a road trip to Oregon and four nights in the Romeo Inn, a B&B with sumptuous breakfasts and overstuffed beds. We have tickets to the three preview nights of plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. As You Like It, The Cherry Orchard, and On the Razzle. Ashland is a town full of art galleries, book stores and upscale restaurants with names like "Dragonfly" and "Morning Glory". We like browsing the little shops. Yesterday we took a tour of Harry and David's manufacturing plant in Medford, Oregon. Seeing how a ton of "Moose Munch" is made was a treat. And, the raspberry truffles . . . oh, boy.

All three productions were first rate. Ashland will have a smashing 2007 season if these are the benchmark. Laird Williamson's On the Razzle was farce the way you dream of it--high energy and lots of doors slamming. This production will only get better with time since this kind of farce is all about timing and precision. The play is flawlessly directed and perfectly cast. It will undoubtedly be a sellout this year. If you are going to Ashland be sure to order seats for this play well in advance. Libby Appel's Cherry Orchard is Chekov perfectly done. He's the only playwright I know that writes scenes that make you laugh and cry in the same moment. Appel understands this and finds all the wonderful, rich comedy. The pathos is apparent, and never overplayed. The set design is masterful. I recommend all three plays, although I have to admit that As You Like It is not on my list of the Bard's favorites. It always feels overwritten. Still setting it in the Depression was a brilliant idea.