“You pretend I’m Laura and I’ll pretend you’re Christian,” Jamie said, putting her hand on my thigh and leaning into me as we watched a production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at an outdoor theater on the coast of St. Ives, England.
The Atlantic was calm, but brought with it a cool breeze perfect for an evening in mid-June. It was even chilly. Coming from hot and humid Indianapolis, I didn’t mind. Jamie from Jersey welcomed it, too.
We were in and out of the dialogue, only picking up a few aphorisms here and there. Mostly we were cuddling. A blanket was wrapped around our torsos. I hadn’t been this comfortable the whole trip, maybe even the whole summer.
“The course of true love never did run smooth,” Lysander said, embracing Hermia by the gazebo, overlooking the ocean.
The waves were frequent, but not frantic. They were friendly, almost welcoming.
Hermia blushed and smiled, flattered.
“O cross! Too high to be enthrall’d too low,” she said.
“Hey, look,” Jamie interrupted, louder than a whisper. Others took heed and followed her outstretched arm, including our families: my mom, dad and sister; her mom, dad and brother.
Four or five dolphins were swimming close to the shore behind the stage, dancing through the water, and leaping, facing our direction, as if saying hello. The way they acted made me think they knew they had an audience and took pleasure in upstaging the thespians.
People in the crowd started paying attention to the porpoises instead of the story – some more subtly than others. It didn’t take long for the actors to pick up on it.
“O spite! Too old to be engaged too young,” Hermia said, but as she said it, she noticed her Lysander was distracted.
“Alas, Hermia, it appears we have some friends gathering near the shore. Porpoises seizing a moment.”
This got a big laugh out of the crowd of 60-plus. Playfully, Lysander bowed to the dolphins and shared a smile with his partner, who added her own one-liner.
“A delightful disruption,” she said. “Clearly they have found their porpoise.”
The improv brought the crowd back to the actors, who remained in character after asking the crowd to give the scene-stealers a round of applause. We got the impression this wasn’t the first time marine mammals had interrupted.
As the dolphins swam away, giddily hopping in and out of sight, Jamie rested her head on my shoulder, shutting her eyes for a moment. I leaned my head into hers, trying to pretend she was someone else.