Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Good Thing About Houston (One in What May Be a Continuing Series, If We Can Think of Anything Else)

We came to the realization a while back that we were offering the discerning reader a far too gloomy a view of Our Town. We vowed to assume a Klineberg-ian cast of mind and spend more time sashaying down the sunny side of the street instead of poking our noodle (figuratively speaking) into the dim recesses of the recently built but now abandoned Hispanic-themed strip center (metaphorically speaking). We figured that a subsidy from the Greater Houston Partnership would greatly contribute toward that end, but while awaiting payment we’ve decided to forge ahead and---to quote The Sopranos' Paulie Walnuts quoting the post-Al Kooper Blood, Sweat and Tears---ride a painted pony, let the spinning wheel spin.

In that spirit of calculated risk-taking we are moved to commend the Houston Shakespeare Festival, which closed its 33rd season this weekend with an edifying Romeo and Juliet dressed in an unobtrusive Roaring ’20s motif. We try to make it out to the festival every year but often can’t (or we forget). When we do, we’re invariably impressed by the quality of the productions, not that we know anything about the theater.

What’s more, the festival is free and for Da People, and by that we mean the entire spectrum of Houston’s variegated, flip-flop-shod, slightly to morbidly obese humanity, from rambunctious kids to doddering oldsters, all splayed together in the 90-plus degree bowl of Miller Outdoor Theatre and few if any among them rating mention in a Shelby Hodge column (as far as we can tell). Although the underwriting is mostly corporate, not governmental, these events leave us with a warm, 1930s WPA-style feeling and let us imagine that we live in a time when more than a handful of our fellow citizens had at least a passing familiarity with Shakespeare (that’s not this time).

Even the low rumbling conversation the very large person---hell, he was humongous---persisted in carrying on with his wife or himself after intermission did not spoil our evening. When we turned around to glare the gentleman did not ask us if we had a problem, did not produce a handgun to wave in our face, did not cut loose with a volley of curse words. He immediately piped down, bringing to mind another good thing about Houston, perhaps a vestige of our fading Old South heritage: Some people still have manners!

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