Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Union Theatre

On the way out, I find a miscellaneous left hand glove on the ground. The lady who dropped it might be who I see getting into a cab, but at the risk of rebuke if I run right to her, I slip the glove on my cold hand and shove the other into my pocket.
Following clearly marked orange sign posts to the Southark tube station, I find a three-walled shop with a chalkboard outside advertising lattes for 80 pence. Affordable and quaint, I pause and ponder and then pay. The barista introduces himself as Mick, from Essex, a gardener by trade who's watching his son's coffee shop while his son does a play in Ireland. He moves like a house sparrow, darting from the coffee machine to the counter to a table to bow before a lady and pull out her chair. His glasses come on and off his nose; he leaves them beside the saucers, on top of the microwave, next to my novel. He fancies playing a Londoner during the week and then migrating back to his wife in Essex. People who don't like the country or conversely avoid the city waste their time not liking things by missing out on what they might enjoy. He takes the best of both.

At 7:00, the back wall of the coffee shop pushes back, like a sliding door to a veranda. The small barroom peers out, and so I find Union Theatre, a literal hole-in-the-wall company that charges me 12 pounds to see six one-act plays. "A Right to Choose" pits doctor against mother as she sends back her girl baby for the boy she genetically ordered, and "November" looks at the reaction of four women to the death of their son, husband, father, and brother-in-law. I meet Jenny, a London actress who will take the money her grandfather left her and go traveling because he never did. She's going to Beijing and New Zealand. She leaves tomorrow morning.

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