Thursday, April 12, 2012

Weekend in Berkeley, April 2012

April 2012

Back in the day, our friend Mars introduced E- and I to Tom Stoppard (see the weekend in New York where we saw Arcadia) and so now I have been looking for opportunities to see more in the Bay area.  Sure enough a group in Berkeley, the Shotgun Players, are putting on Voyage, so why not go see it and make a weekend of it as well.

On the Saturday drive up we stopped at the JollyBee-which if you haven't been is a Philippino fast food joint.  The best seller is the Chicken Joy package, which is fried chicken and rice with gravy.  We tried the aloha burger-hamburger with a pineapple slice.  Next time I want the pie, which looks like any deep fried pie, but has mango in it!

We got up to Berkeley early enough to hike around Tilden Park, which is noted as one of the best parks in the area.  It is in the hills behind Berkeley and to get there you have to drive up and up and up.  On the way we passed a number of stair way paths.  These are public walkways to get up the hills without switchbacking on the road and seem like a fun thing to do someday.  Once you get to the top of the hill, it turns out the back side is undeveloped and just lovely.  The park is easy to get to and we ended up at the main area near Little Farm and the education center.  The park was filled with families feeding the cows, goats and sheep (celery and lettuce only!!) and it left the hiking trails empty.  The trails are really short and totally doable by small children.  We took the lower Packrat trail to Jewel lake and then up Wildcat trail to the peak lookout.  It was a relatively clear day and we were able to see the city, the bridges and up to the North Bay.  We hiked down Laurel Canyon trail to get back to the lake and finally walked back along the boardwalk.  Super cute little park with a little bit of everything.

We checked into the Shattuck Plaza hotel and did some shopping at Games of Berkeley. I found a fantastic new puzzle that is over 13,000 pieces!  Check back in about a year to see it get put together :)  We ate dinner at one of the many vegetarian chinese restaurants before walking over to our play.  I didn't know anything about the group, so it could have been lame, but it turned out to be quite good community theater.  The group has been around for over 20 years and they have a permanent space that is cozy, but has all the extras.  A pre-show talk, drinks and snacks you can take inside, bench seating, but with back pillows, and they paint the exterior to match the play.  The actors were locals and had worked for this group or others before and the quality was better than I expected.  The staging was well done-sparse, but had seamless scene transitions.

The play itself was not the most amazing I've seen, but more engaging than I hoped for, given that the topic is philosophy (of self and countries) in pre-revolutionary Russia.  I feel like I should go back and read the Cliff notes of a few philosophers.  If the company is able to put on the trilogy I will definitely get tickets and maybe even read up a little beforehand :)

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