Well, we had quite an eventful trip to Chicago. We met CJ and Lisa at O’Hare, and then drove out to Evanston, home of Northwestern University. We were there to see Sean in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The first problem was CJ. Channeling Rainman, he kept telling us he had a routine, he knew exactly how to get to the hotel, he knew where he was going to park and eat and blah blah blah. I’m used to ignoring him so it wasn’t much worse than the usual buzzing sound in my ears when he’s talking.
The second problem was of course CJ. As an all-knowing being he had a vision of which building on the sprawling campus housed the performance, so he pulled over and parked somewhere in Indiana, certain it was close, and easier to get to on foot. Well, at least it was a nice evening for a long walk—2 degrees, high winds, snowing. Oh yeah, and I wore heels because I didn’t know we were going to be hiking cross-country in search of the abominable snowman.
I did get to see the enormous Kellogg School of Management building. Three times in fact—each time we walked around it, frozen and still lost. Oh my, were we getting yet another tour of the library building architecture? I would have suffered in silence but then I wouldn’t be me. So I whined bitterly the entire time and didn’t stop until we split off at the airport this morning. Then I called CJ and whined some more. He hates not being able to slam down the phone.
At long last, merely 53 miles from where we parked the car we finally found the venue. Not a theatre so much as a squat, remarkably shed-like building. I was looking forward to the chance to warm up and get off my feet. And then we walked into…a dance club. Flashing strobes, girls wearing little tiny bits of nothing, loud house music. There was even an impressive drag queen, who turned out to be Puck.
CJ said it was an avant-garde production. He didn’t mention how experimental the kids might have been in reinterpreting Shakespeare, like setting the action in a loud, crowded club rather than in the woods. No seats for the audience or anything too traditional like that. And the part where different scenes would take place simultaneously at various spots around the loud crowded room. But in fairness, he didn’t really know the full details.
Sean mentioned in advance that his character, Bottom, takes a long nap in the middle of the show, so we would have to watch the other kids perform and pretend we found them interesting. I don’t know if he mentioned that his “nap” took place while he was wearing a leather donkey mask, handcuffed to a rope over his head, with a dominatrix in a bustier and fish nets sitting in his lap from time to time. She was a little clingy for my taste, but Sean seemed pretty content.
I looked at Sean chained up, wearing that donkey mask, and asked CJ and Lisa to remind me how much they paid a year for this school? I know it was a proud moment for them as parents. So we went and saw the play again for a second night, and we were all slightly better able to follow various scenes and knew where to find Sean if we wanted to see him sleeping through part of the play.
After the show, Sean introduced us to his director, producer, and several other cast members, including Ms. Clingy Dominatrix. The show was over yet she was still sort of clinging to Sean and telling us how much she loved him. How much she REALLY and truly loved him. She assured us that she checked on Sean from time to time to make sure the handcuffs weren’t pinching him or anything. Sean showed us how, while chained up and in a donkey mask, he would jingle his chains to reassure her he was just splendid.
As if that wasn’t enough, Ms. Clingy noted that her Aunt was there for the performance as well. I didn’t want to get too defensive, but I did make it clear that there are Aunts and then there are AUNTS, and I am the latter. I told her I knew I was a better Aunt than her Aunt. She said she’d try to find her and introduce us—we should look for a woman in a bustier and garters. Fine, she wins for most devoted Aunt. Happy now little Ms. Fishnets? Geez, what some people are willing to do to compete. Just ridiculous.
All jokes aside, it was a pretty ambitious and interesting interpretation of Shakespeare, and Sean, when awake, was very impressive. It seems to me this kind of creative license is exactly why a kid would go to a school like Northwestern. I would give it two thumbs up but I can’t. My fingers are still frozen.