There was a point a couple of weeks back when I was planning a midweek trip to New York. Had the plans worked out, I would have dragged myself through a day's work tasks after a nighttime bus ride back from The City. The impetus for considering a trip came from a New York Times review of an off-Broadway production of Stephen Massicotte's The Oxford Roof Climber's Rebellion. The last performances at Urban Stages are scheduled for the next few days. The production is slated to close November 18.
What got me to order a copy of the play from Amazon? Partly the New York Times review. Partly the suggestion of a strong personal attraction moving charismatic T. E. Lawrence and poet Robert Graves across the Georgian landscapes of Oxford. Partly the lure of a theater evening in New York smack in the middle of a work week. Partly the flavor of a wild escapade -- reminiscent of younger days -- involving a hasty and a relatively carefree and a strategically car-free trip to the Big Apple.
And partly the photograph accompanying the newspaper review in which the red-haired knee of Dylan Chalfy, the actor portraying T. E. Lawrence, rises center stage.
The script of the play is a good read. I look forward some day to seeing the 95-minute production -- maybe on another stage, maybe on a movie screen, maybe on television in a few years.
The Oxford setting recalls for me the first letters I had the chance to write to Marc over twenty years ago. Three months after first meeting him, I was participating in a three-week course at Christ Church in Oxford. Re-reading some of the letters I wrote him recalls for me a younger Marc, a younger John, a younger set of hopes and resolutions.
Some impressions of that earlier Oxford rise up like ghosts from those letters.
The tall white lilies that grew in one of the college gardens.
The weather that changed so frequently during the day.
The towpath along the Thames where some of us walked one Sunday afternoon.
The perennial possibility of an appearance by Iris Murdoch at our tutorial on the twentieth-century British novel.
The bedside shrine of Marc photographs in my dorm room.
Photo from Urban Stages in The New York Times