Until yesterday I hadn’t seen London since our plane landed a month ago. London is a place worth spending more than 30 minutes in. Yesterday I went to London to meet a former professor of mine, and she treated me (and Zach) to a brilliant time.
Maura, my professor, flew to the UK for the New Directions in Medieval Manuscript Studies and Reading Practices Conference. I met her at the conference site near Trafalgar Square (which I keep thinking is Tralfamadore) for lunch and the second half of Saturday’s conference activities. She introduced me to her favorite and most inspiring professor and helped me understand what the panelists were talking about during their readings–some were quite technical.
Zach met us in the evening in time for dinner and the play. He couldn’t accompany me in the morning because he has class on Saturdays. We ate at Maura’s hotel’s restaurant and then headed to The Old Vic for the play. We saw The Playboy of the Western World by JM Synge. The story takes place in Ireland in the early 1900s and focuses on a young man running from home, claiming he killed his father. The townspeople seem more impressed by his story than interested in turning him in to the law, and all the ladies seem taken with him. At first, the play was a little difficult to understand because the characters spoke with thick Irish accents, but as the play progressed I grew accustomed to the accents.
The actors certainly made this play wonderful, and Niamh Cusack (left side of picture) was particularly spectacular. She played the widow Quinn and kept trying to seduce “the playboy” to marry her. He continually spurns her advances, though, because he falls in love with Pegeen (right side of picture). I won’t tell you who he ends up with.
According to the program and Wikipedia, riots broke out when this play was first staged. The audience apparently didn’t like the way the village people welcomed the outlaw, didn’t like a certain comment he made about the purity of Irish women (he said he’d marry Pegeen even if offered “a drift of Mayo girls standing in their shifts itself”), and were increasingly upset by the treatment of parricide. It was a great production.
Afterward, Maura and a friend of hers accompanied us to King’s Cross station where Zach and I caught a train back to Cambridge. I feel so refreshed after seeing Maura and, of course, had a great time in London. Also, I seemed to have the golden ticket yesterday: I paid £14.50 for round-trip trains and unlimited access to the tube. I don’t think I’ll always be able to make the journey that cheap, though.