Shaw Festival Redux

I just got back from three days at the Shaw Festival.  Z and I spent some time there in early August, and I decided to take my mom there this fall.  She had been a regular Festival-goer for years, but hadn’t been there for a while.

She took the train in from Ottawa, so I picked her up at Union Station on Tuesday shortly after noon, and we drove to Niagara-on-the-Lake.  We checked in to the lovely Harbour House, where Z and I had stayed, and had an hour or so to relax before our dinner reservation and first play.

We ate at Zee’s Patio and Grill.  It was fine, but not as good as my previous dine dining forays in NOTL.  The crab cakes were thick with breading and rather bland.  The organic beef tenderloin was a little tough.  But we had a nice chat and a glass of good wine, and headed off to see Getting Married.

This play was a fun dissertation on married life, although I was very sleepy and possibly missed a few bits.  It had been a long day of travel, topped with a big meal.  The theatre was absolutely freezing which was probably a blessing and kept me awake.

Wednesday afternoon we saw Belle Moral by the uber-talented Ann-Marie MacDonald.  This was my favorite of the four plays we attended, a clever and stunning comment on the contrasts and contradictions of the Shavian era.  The text was fast and smart, and I managed to pick up a copy of the play at the Shaw Shop as I want to read it and pick up the stuff that I missed.  Unfortuately, it was a bit fast for Mom who, even with her hearing aids and excellent seats, had trouble catching a lot of the dialog.

We had a quick rest before dinner at The Charles Inn, a favorite of my previous visit to NOTL.  My only quibble with the meal was that my veal was undercooked.  I haven’t ordered veal for probably 20 years, for ethical reasons, but I was seduced by their offering of Veal Oscar.

Canadian Veal Tenderloin Topped with Pieces of Nova Scotia Lobster and Herbed Hollandaise. Accompanied by Potato Purée, Jumbo Green Asparagus, Black Trumpet Mushrooms and Baby Spinach. Finished with a Cabernet Red Wine Jus. 

After dinner we saw An Inspector Calls, the well-known play by J.B. Priestley.  I had never seen it before, nor read it, so it was an enjoyable evening.  The set was dreary and industrial and while it made a statement about the era, didn’t really evoke a household drawing room.  The only annoyance were the large numbers of coughers in the audience.  It was in the Festival Theatre, the largest of the three rooms at the festival, and it was jam-packed with sickies. 

On Thursday just before noon we saw The President, a one-act/one-hour play by Ference Molnar.  A terrific piece, even faster than Belle Moral, almost Groucho-Marxian in the level of zaniness.  Fun, fun, fun, although again, Mom had some difficulty following it because of her hearing and our seats, which were up in the balcony of the Royal George.  This play has been completely sold out but we managed to snag a couple of returned tickets, so had no choice in where we sat.

After the play, we grabbed some bakery items for lunch, dropped into the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for some swag to bring home, and were back in Toronto by 3:00 pm.

A fun and cultural little excursion, and a great break for both Mom and I.

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