Mr. Darcy, I presume?

This week I met with my dear friend Ann and her mother at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. This was only my second trip to the Festival, which is truly appalling. I stayed at the Ashland Hostel, a delightful spot, if a little close to the main road, and we managed two plays and one lecture in under 48 hours. The first night we saw a stage version of Pride and Prejudice. And loved it. The entire dialogue seemed to be straight from the book. Settings were simple, with cast members, mostly servants and soldiers, bringing in a few pieces of furniture to change a scene, and one lovely costume for each character, with traveling cloaks, gloves, bonnets to change with the scene. This minimum of visual distraction meant the focus was on the words and the characters, just as it should be. All the characters looked and played the part. For once, Charles Bingley looked and acted exactly right. I loved the Gardiners, as I always do. The Gardiners and Lizzie, moving in unison to mimic the motion in a carriage, was a wonderful bit of theater.

And Darcy. Gorgeous. Fuming. Restless. Sexy. Swarthy skin, dark flashing eyes, lots of dark curls, impressive sideburns, Ann and I were swooning in our seats. He added a swirling traveling coat for one scene, and we were riveted. Instead of simply handing Eliza the famous letter, he recited it to her as she read along, and we listened as if we didn’t know it almost as well as he did.

 

Fast forward to the next day. We had emerged from our lecture, and were debating the plan of action: first lunch, then the gift shop, or reverse the order. While we dithered, I noticed a most attractive man sitting on a low wall a dozen feet from us talking to another man. hmmm. I noticed the bulky shoulders in a worn T-shirt, long legs emerging from shorts. more hmmm. Then I frantically started clutching Ann’s sleeve–“Look! It’s him! It’s the actor who plays Mr. Darcy!!” Ann stared at the dark curls, the sideburns, and agreed. I didn’t have my camera, and she grabbed for her cell phone, and decided, “Let’s just look. And remember. We don’t need a photo.” The actor, Elijah Alexander, in the meantime, gathered up his papers, finished his conversation, and scampered away, across the street and through a doorway. But we knew. We were that close to him. OMG, indeed. Maybe we should have curtseyed. OMG.

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