Shakespeare’s ‘Lost Play’ Cardenio fulfils
Clifford Graham: Cardenio is in many ways a fulfilling play and Roy Sergeant’s staging for the 2013 season at Maynardville will be remembered for some time. I suppose it makes perfect sense, before going into a review of the current production of Cardenio at the Maynardville Open Air Theatre, to touch on the origins of this play and why it is referred to as Shakespeare’s lost play. Director Roy Sargeant in his programme notes points out that the play is the product of research by Gregory Doran, currently the Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, rather than a long lost manuscript found in someone’s attic or buried under a pile of documents in an obscure English archive.
The original play was known to have been performed by the King’s Men (a London Theatre company) at the court of King James I as early as 1613. It is attributed to William Shakespeare and John Fletcher. The work was probably based on an episode of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote involving the character Cardenio, a young man who has been driven mad with love and betrayal and lives in the Sierra Morena. After 1613 the play seems to have disappeared and appears only sporadically under varying titles. No original text for the play survives.
However the play as it is presented using Gregory Doran’s text, re-imagined after William Shakespeare could be said to be in the style of Shakespeare. No matter, it is a very good play none the less. The synopsis of the play reads like a Mozart Opera, love triangles become foursomes with an evil don hell bent on seducing every vulnerable wench in sIght. Well yes, there is a lot of that, but there are some very human threads to the plot which enrich the story and keep the audience guessing throughout. It’s hard to be sure just how much of the play is the work of Messrs. Fletcher and Shakespeare, but perhaps it’s best to forget the complex provenance and just sit back and be entertained.
Set design by Dicky Longhurst is simple but effective. Wrought iron gates and window bars are reminiscent of Moorish architecture. Costume is detailed and for the most part accurate to the time. Roy Sargeant’s vision is clearly defined in the Spanish qualities that imbue the production. Light references to Catholic ritual, wild fiesta dances and obsessions of sex and death leave us in no doubt as to the plays’ Spanish temperament.
And of the ensemble? Some dazzling performances made Cardenio a pilgrimage I would have been happy to make on my knees. Francis Chouler’s Fernando, filled with menace and glimpses of a tyrant in the making, provides a pivot for the rest of the cast to react to. Jenny Stead’s Luscinda, filled with measured innocence, is charming, allowing audience sympathies to grow at each twist in the plot. Terence Bridget comes close to stealing the show with his sometimes comic, often bumbling take on the role of Don Bernardo, Luscinda’s father. Marcel Meyer as Pedro brings an air of reason to the plot.
But for me it’s the pairing of Armand Aucamp (Cardenio) with Francis Chouler (Fernando) that heightens the production as a whole. They were last seen together in Mary and the Conqueror (Artscape Spring Drama Season 2011). The chemistry between these actors seems to spur them on to greater performances.
Cardenio is in many ways a fulfilling play and Roy Sergeant’s staging for the 2013 season at Maynardville will be remembered for some time to come. Pack your picnic and make the pilgrimage. Cardenio is a must see! Cardenio is in rep with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Maynardville Open Air Theatre in Cape Town until 9 March.
Beyoncé rumored to be interested in Houston property
by Dan X. McGraw
A 25,000-square foot Houston home is attracting numerous suitors, possibly including Beyoncé. The Piney Point Village home, which is owned by Douglas R. Johnson and his ex-wife Melanie Johnson, was original priced for $19 million. In an effort to sell the home, the couple has slashed more than $13 million off the price over the past three years.
The home is currently on the market for $5.9 million. The reduced price is helping to attract prospective buyers, mainly people in the oil and gas industry, Alberto Alaniz, the owner of Prime Texas Properties, said. He said a wealthy oilman was flying his private jet into Houston to check out the property next week.
Alaniz said his agency has sent the real estate listing to Beyoncé. He said she was rumored to be interested in the property for her mother, Tina Knowles.
While the price is steep, it isn’t hard to see why Beyoncé or anyone else might be interested in the property.
Inside the 25,000-square foot mansion, you’ll find 16 bathrooms, six bedrooms and two suites. The Houston mansion also packs two Jacuzzis and a pool with a private entrance.
On the third floor, the home has a game room and theater room. It also has a “hobby room with a large climate-controlled cedar closet” that could be used from everything from wine to cigars.
The home also has former Enron executive Ken Lay’s desk and wrought iron from the Art and Humanities building in Argentina.
Oddly enough, the home is a bit of bargain for a multi-million home. Its reduced price would make it $250 per square foot, much lower than similarly priced and sized homes.
Victorian charm to be restored to a Whalley Range park
A £4.5m project has started at Alexandra Park, Whalley Range, to restore its Victorian charm and bring it up to date.
The year-long process is the biggest investment in the park’s 143-year history – and one of the largest ever in Manchester.
Contractors have already opened the park’s boarded-up lodge and wrought iron pavilion buildings for the first time in around 20 years to start restoration work.
New tennis courts and football facilities will also be built and improvements will be made to the lake.
A head gardener’s role and four apprenticeships for youngsters to train in horticulture will also be created.
Overall, the project will create three distinct zones – ‘natural’, for wildlife, ‘formal’ to reflect the park’s Victorian heritage and ‘activity’ for sports.
The lodge – a miniature gothic-style mansion near Claremont Road – will be used for community meetings and office space.
The pavilion, in the middle of the park, will include new changing rooms and a cafe overlooking the lake – and is due to be open this summer.
Work will start later in the year on stripping back trees and adding new flowerbeds along the Victorian promenade next to Claremont Road.
Different parts of the park will be fenced off while renovations take place.
The Caribbean Carnival, held in the park every August, may have to be moved this year. But it is hoped more community events will be held there once work is completed.
An umbrella group, Alexandra Park Community Sports Club, will also be set up to represent the cricket, lacrosse, running and football teams based in the park.
Teams and volunteers will play a major role in deciding how the park is run.
The huge project is funded by £2.2m in Heritage Lottery Funding, £1.8m from the council and £545,000 from sports bodies.
The search for funding began 10 years ago –with one failed Heritage Lottery Fund bid rejected in 2008 before a successful one in December 2009.
Senior council officer Eddie Flanagan, who has worked on the project since 2003, said: “This project has been a long time in the making, but residents have never lost their enthusiasm, even when our first bid was knocked back and that’s carried us along.
“To come through all that and now finally see work starting is incredibly exciting.
“Another exciting part of the project is finding a model where the community have more of a say in how the space is used and money is spent, which will be a first for Manchester.
“The primary purpose is getting more people in to enjoy the park in a light, airy space which caters for a wide range of
HK’s favorite dining room
Shanghai restaurants are almost as ubiquitous as Cantonese ones in Hong Kong and with good reason, too. Its hearty combination of simple ingredients never fails to satisfy and is particularly enticing during these chilly winter days.
The only complaints, if we are picky, are that the same dishes keep reappearing. And, as in many local eateries, the more deliciously authentic the cuisine, the more the setting is bound to be a hole in the wall.
The Dining Room aims to change the bad rap that Shanghai food sometimes receives with a fresh take on both decor and menu. Situated in the brand spanking new Hysan Place, it is an airy 146-seat casual and contemporary venue that resembles a French bistro.
The entrance is decked out like a gourmet grocery store, with fresh fruit and vegetables spilling out from wooden crates. This is the theme throughout the restaurant, which extends the texture of the boxes into hardwood flooring and furniture.
Wrapping around a semi-open dim sum and cold prep kitchen, the dining area is infused with natural light from floor to ceiling windows.
Open shelves stocked with products used for menu items give the restaurant a neighborhood store ambience. A dado height brass rail with sheer drapes below add to the bistro feel, along with bric-a-brac, such as brass tea kettles and a wrought iron coat rack topped by a clock and weather vane.
Classic Phoenix bicycles manufactured in Shanghai are fun props, and I loved that there is a range of seating: counter-height tables with bar stools, communal wooden benches, sofas with low tables and white marble tables with cafe chairs.
The menu reflects the breeziness of the decor, with a number of new items created by executive chef Tony Huang. An alumnus of Shanghai New Asia Catering School, he is a specialist in dim sum and a former protege of Ge Xian’e – considered one of China’s best dim sum masters.
Our first taste of dim sum began with the soft and crispy bun with minced pork, bamboo shoots and Shanghai eggplant. I was very pleasantly surprised by the succulent eggplant, which was an excellent combination of sweet and savory. Served in a paper pocket, the flaky, very crunchy bun was a perfect envelope for its stuffing.
Next came a cold appetizer of candied whole mini pumpkin with lily bulbs. It was beautifully presented, with a gentle lily bulb taste that lingered on the palette and was just sweet enough to be refreshing.
My favorite was tofu with hairy crab cream. It was so silky and rich, I practically licked the plate clean. And it was a great way to enjoy hairy crab without doing any of the messy work.
Rice in soup with seafood in Shanghai style was a good choice for those who can’t decide between soup and more substantial fare. Each kernel was left whole, and the broth’s aromatic chicken flavor enhanced the generous assortment of shrimp, clams and squid.
Wok-fried shrimp with caramelized longjing tea leaves was equally delicious. The crisp leaves reminded me of deep-fried basil – only more fragrant, if that is possible. And the river shrimp was super fresh and lightly sauteed to retain its firmness.
Huang’s dim sum dexterity did not disappoint when it came to dessert, either.
I adored his crispy rice dumplings with pomelo, which was dusted with white sesame seeds and a melt-in-the-mouth filling of sweet pomelo. Artfully presented in mason jars, chilled puddings were available in jasmine, almond milk and mango, with the last being my personal pick to end things on a high note.
Two different approaches to four-season living
The 129-year-old Connaught School building on Napier St. into four condo units known as Duke Lofts. Two of the residences will be built in the original school building and will have two or three bedrooms, original wood staircases and original tin high ceilings. The other two units will be three-level residences and will be built in an addition.
All four residences will have a private courtyard, a garage plus surface parking and the old school yard will be landscaped using brick pillars and iron rod fencing.
Interior finishes will include two-storey entry foyers, natural or engineered hardwood in the kitchen, living, dining area and den, choice of porcelain or tile in the foyer, bathrooms and laundry room. Kitchens will feature granite or quartz counter tops and stainless steel appliances. Each suite will have individual climate control system with high efficiency furnaces.
The other project under construction is Dwell, a new build by Devonleigh Homes. Located on the corner of Sixth St. and High St., Dwelll is in close proximity to the shopping areas on the west side of town and only a few blocks away from Collingwood’s heritage main street.
The new grand mansion style condominium building is three storeys and will include an elevator, says Devonleigh marketing manager Jim Funston.
Owners of the top-floor units will enjoy views of the ski slopes at Blue Mountain and the private Osler Bluff ski club, says Funston.
Dwell is the final phase of Devonleigh’s 280-home Creekside development and will form the cornerstone of the development. It will feature brick piers and wrought iron fences and irrigated lawns “to set the tone of the neighbourhood,” says Funston.
Dwell is aimed at empty nesters and families who want to be close to skiing at Blue Mountain and the area’s golf courses and beaches.