So, we had this great idea of going to Shakespeare on the Common, a free Shakespeare production that they put on every summer down at Boston Common. It’s a scenic walk about thirty minutes from MIT, the sun was shining, birds were chirping, the Red Sox were winning, so, I figured, sure, what could go wrong if we headed down to the Common to see it?
On the way, we stopped at The Wrap, a local Boston fast food chain which give. As a purveyor of primarily wrapped items, they’re even nice enough to give you directions on consuming their food, which we all ignored, but I still appreciate the idea. I got a veggie burrito with mango salsa, which was pretty much the first delicious meal I’ve had from a restaurant since I started this awful, misguided experiment in temporary vegetarianism. Anyway, we took the wraps (and nutella milkshakes) down to the park, set out Ruth’s blanket (a family heirloom), and settled into a nice picnic in Boston Common.
Last year, the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company did a pretty good production of As You Like It, but I must confess that I had a hard time following the plot. This time, the company was doing a production of Hamlet, starring Jeffrey Donovan from Hitch and Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. Really! I actually studied Hamlet fairly closely in 21L.009 Shakespeare my Freshman year, so I was I excited to finally see a live version. Now, I learned from Professor Donaldson that Hamlet is Shakespeare’s most difficult play, as well as the greatest thing ever written in the English language, nobody has ever even come close to understanding it, and there has never been an acceptable production done by anybody, except for this one Russian film version with a lot of broken crosses that nobody has ever seen except Professor Donaldson. So, actually, the class didn’t prepare me at all to analyze this production, but I did make a B+ on the major paper, so I figure I must have learned something. Perhaps Book-A-Minute gives the most insightful analysis of all.
The production was pretty good, but not really inspiring. A lot of the soliloquies felt like the actors were basically just reciting Shakespeare’s words, although Hamlet himself did make a clear effort to apply more modern speech patterns to the play’s text. They also had some well-engineered puppetry going on with the ghost’s freakishly long arms, waving, waving, waving frantically about on the barren, abstract set. Also, the play got rained out right after *SPOILER* Polonius’s death, so we never got to see the ending where *SPOILER* everybody else dies.
There was also a huge wading pool in front of the stage, which was necessary for that crucial scene where Hamlet, feigning madness, wanders out in front of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with an inflatable pool toy, swims around for a while, and then starts suntanning. This also served as a terrible electrocution hazard during the play-ending thunderstorm. Still, I can’t complain too much–the price was right, and I’d probably even be enticed to go see a Clay Aiken concert if it were free and staged in Boston Common. Certainly, this was several orders of magnitude more entertaining, not to mention more enlightening, than a Clay Aiken concert would be.
You’re not allowed to take pictures of the production “for the safety of the actors,” so here’s a bunch of shots of us making scary faces.
Ruth ’07 is watching you with her freakish giant eyes.
Jon ’06 is a quiet serial killer.
Brian ’06 is a manic serial killer.
Me, eating dinner, cheerfully.
Beckett ’06 is so unbelievably scary that my camera would break if it focused on him.
Jon ’06, left, insisted on posing for every picture I took of him for fear that I would take a terrible picture and then post it on the internet. He also pretended that he doesn’t know anything about this blog even though I know he reads it because I installed StatCounter last week and I keep getting hits from PLP-FIFTY-FIVE. Hi Jon ’06! Hope you like this picture!
After the torrent, Ruth and I were getting off the T when we simultaneously wondered whether the Starbucks in Kendall Square was open at 10:32 PM at night. Answer: nope, Chester. I knew from experience last week that Dunkin Donuts coffee would be subpar (they use solid sugar rather than a sugar syrup [like Starbucks] and it does not dissolve as well, making inferior iced coffee –info courtesy Spencer ’07), plus Ruth really loves her some frappuccino, so we decided to get right back on the T and backtrack past Boston Common to Newbury Street, where we found a Starbucks ready to close in about 3 minutes.
We wanted to take a picture of ourselves at the cash register to prove our devotion to overpriced non-Fair Trade coffee, but the barrista quickly told us that it’s actually against Starbucks company policy to take pictures in the store. I joked that it was probably because of trade secrets or something (cappuccino machine design?) but then the barrista instantly became serious and told us harshly that you’re not allowed to photograph the interior of a Starbucks for security reasons. Now, I know that sometimes the police get upset if you take photographs of, like, the entrances to government buildings or something, especially during the DNC, but seriously, this is not exactly a government facility, this is a tiny little Starbucks near the end of “Boston’s most enchanting street.”
So, the moral of the story is screw you, Starbucks.
Anyway, we got a picture outside, and although we’re smiling, you can see the rage in our eyes. Oh, how we seethe, how we seethe even now.
With nothing else to do, we capped off the evening by strolling into the nearby Virgin Megastore. Here, we took this picture:
These were sitting on the discount CD table and cost one dollar each. Because the discount table is right in front of the cash register, we decided to take the CDs over to the clothing section in case it’s illegal to take pictures in a Virgin Megastore too. I was a little worried that the cashier would see us taking off with them and reprimand us for trying to steal merchandise.
Oh, wait, that’s right, we would be “stealing” Carrie Underwood’s debut single.
Who would steal Carrie Underwood’s debut single?
DID YOU KNOW? Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are the only four states which are commonwealths.
Edit for Eric: From a government perspective, it actually means absolutely nothing for a US State to be a commonwealth. Philosophically, the government of a commonwealth should” be based on the common consent of the people,” an idea dating to Oliver Cromwell’s rule in seventeenth-century England. However, the idea is quite outdated these days.