While Love's Labour's Lost suggests that living beauties better deserve contemplation than books, I found myself quietly reading at the edge of the Drilling Company's recent Shakespeare in the Parking Lot production. I didn't want to. I just couldn't hear most of the play. The snatches of speeches I was able to catch seemed compelling, and Jordan Feltner in particular managed to project his voice consistently despite the obvious challenges of sirens and s.u.v.s pulling in and out of the parking lot.
There was a Chinese teenage couple nearby bitterly angry with one another who wandered through the lot and then stood at the edge, anguished in their frustration with one another. First he would hang on the wire fence showing cruel indifference, then with her fingers wagging in his face, she berated him. His arms crossed angrily over his chest he seemed at times to approach her and then suddenly to repell her as his anger rose to meet hers. I watched these two alternately between pages of my book. Sometimes the play grabbed my attention too. But the theater of life was just that much more compelling even if it was only the backdrop. The bright street lamps provided such comfortable night lights that I was still grateful to the Drilling Company for making the space habitable. But I was hardly convinced by Shakespeare's play that reading books is any less of a way to engage the world than acting in it.