Bad Audience: Contessa
"Okay, so I need to ask, is it me or is it just bad?" I asked as I pulled out another cookie.
The intermission had just begun and our crew began to stretch out and start again for the fried chicken, white wine, and flasks of cocktails. A bunch of us had decided to gather together at the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival and make a day of it. The festival is held every summer and the performers always put on a comedy and a tragedy. Attendees gather in an outdoor theatre to picnic with varying degrees of fabulousness and then watch a show.
We had put out a number of blankets and gathered up fine cheeses, heirloom tomato salads, fried chicken, curry-rubbed ribs, homemade cookies and cakes, and more than enough wine to open a shop. To top it off we smuggled in flasks of only the most refined cocktails to swig during Acts I through V.
The night's play, Love's Labour's Lost, was a new one to us. The festival had decided to put on one of the least known plays from Shakespeare's folios and we all went in knowing little to nothing about the plot. However, after three acts we were beginning to wonder if there might be some reason to this.
To begin with, this play is essentially like watching The Daily Show, but most of the comedy is only funny if you know the topical references of 1597 England and have a fair understanding of the history of Aquitaine.
But, mostly, the actors were terrible. Aside from the actors for Moth and the Princess of Aquitaine, they were just utterly, unforgivably terrible.
"I mean, really," I continued to ask, "is it me? I've worked in development at a nonprofit theatre that only hires Equity actors, so maybe my standards are just high?"
"No," asserted M as she dug in her bag for more potato salad, "they're god awful."
"I don't think the guy playing the king actually knows what his lines mean," said Stephanie.
It was unanimous, Shakespeare was rolling around in his grave so hard we could harness the energy to power the lights shining on this dismal stage. Still, we were curious about the end and decided to sit through the second half. (Spoiler: it's a romantic comedy where no one is happy at the end and no marriages take place.)
Also, by "sit through" that meant play Pokemon Go and start a group text amongst ten people where for one full hour over 300 messages of pictures and hilarious gifs sassing the actors and plot took place. Between the sniggering, outbursts of laughter, and one woman telling us off and loudly telling her children that they were "behaving far better than some of the adults" we became those people. You know, the irritating pissants that have less class than a burned down high school.
Oh yes, we were a riot to ourselves. I'm sure the trembling interns working the show were almost ready to send us away, but we actually kept rather quiet and were only directly irritating anyone in a two-foot radius around our base camp. Plus, if the actors weren't going to entertain us then we would entertain ourselves.
I suppose I don't have much excuse for bad behavior except to assure you that they play was a wreck start to finish. I'm sure the codger next to us browsing the New York Times and his fast asleep wife would agree.
My critique isn't even going into the seemingly random choice of setting the play in 1910 or the addition of a bunch of extras that, frankly, had nothing to do but sit around as moving scenery. One of the do-nothings actually began biting his nails during what was supposed to be a rather moving speech, but once he spit a nail behind himself he killed the mood faster than a family member catching you mid-orgasm.
Anyways, I heard that the other play went smashing and previous years have always been fantastic so we plan to go back next year. Just, you know, with more cocktails and a book on tape at the ready just in case.
The Contessa is a riff on the Negroni, only using Aperol and dry vermouth instead of Campari and sweet vermouth. The result is less bitter and certainly less pretentious. I find more people prefer the Contessa to the Negroni when tasting them side by side.
What You'll Need:
1 ounce gin (I would recommend choosing one not too juniper-y)
1 ounce Aperol
1 ounce dry vermouth
lemon peel for garnish
What You'll Do:
Place the ingredients in an ice filled cocktail glass. Stir together for ten second and strain into a glass and garnish with lemon peel. Best enjoyed watching a play or reading the script to the new Harry Potter.