All the world's a stage,
A Walk in the Woods
TONIGHT on TV
Legally Blonde 2
WHEREFORE ART THOU?
2 August 2004
This is a two-show weekend for me--Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan on Friday and Romeo and Juliet on Saturday.
I'm more a Wilde person than a Shakespeare person, I fear. I don't remember ever reading any Shakespeare when I was in school and I've always had a difficult time getting into it. The language of Shakespeare eludes me. I've now seen enough that I can sort of follow it, but unless it's something like the recent Kenneth Branaugh versions of Much Ado about Nothing or Love's Labour Lost, I have a hard time staying alert to follow the plot from beginning to end.
Lady Windermere's Fan was a little bit of a disappointment. So many of Oscar Wilde's sharp witicisms seemed to be buried in the actors' delivery (this was the young people's theatre). I really wanted to give it a good review, but I've seen the company do better. I don't think this group has ever done Oscar Wilde before, though. I finally decided that they did a competent job, but I think that to really put the lines across, a more seasoned cast was needed.
I thought back to watching Ernest In Love, which is the musical version of The Importance of Being Earnest and think of the delivery of those lines, each one pointed and acerbic as only Oscar Wilde could write.
(I became so accustomed to Ernest in Love that when I finally saw the originalThe Importance of Being Earnest, I missed the music. When Ernest confesses that he was left in a handbag in the cloakroom of Victoria Station, I desperately wanted someone to break out singing "A handbag is not a proper mother...")
There was one guy in Lady Windermere who had a small part, but he delivered the lines the way they should be delivered. And he got more laughter than almost anyone else.
I went into Lady Windermere expecting to like it a lot, since I like Oscar Wilde. I went into Romeo and Juliet expecting to put up with it because I don't like Shakespeare.
Ironically, I didn't like the first and I really liked the second.
It was set in the future, at a time when the world has gone through something like a biological cataclysm and most of the population has been killed off. Technology no longer exists and the young people live violently, their differences being settled using martial arts techniques.
They had worked with a martial arts teacher and the fight scenes were terrific. Actually, the fight scene toward the beginning of the play reminded me of West Side Story (not surprisingly).
Also the party scene was lit with reds and the choreography was excellent and the whole scene--again, like Tony and Maria meeting at the dance--was reminiscent of West Side Story.
The actors were excellent. Romeo was terrific. Juliet wasn't quite as convincing, but still did a good job. Some of the others were great, including a Lady Capulet, who wore skin tight black leather, smoked herbal cigarettes and was as sultry as Catherine Zeta Jones.
It's nice when you get surprised by something. I remember a long time ago at the Lamplighters when a critic was overheard, going into the theatre, saying "Oh god...I suppose I'm going to have to see XX and XX" (naming two actors he didn't like). I kind of go into Shakespeare productions that way. It's very nice to be surprised to discover that you are enjoying it and that the show is good enough to hold your attention.
And I didn't need anybody to poke me to keep me awake.
TODAY'S SUGGESTED WEB SITE
This one comes thanks to Joan. Click on the link if you have a fast modem. It's a long broadcast (1 hr), but it's really worth listening to, the story of a group of convicts who are doing Hamlet in prison. Absolutely fascinating listen to the convicts dissect the plot, and their thorough understanding of the characters. (Also, had to smile as they glossed over the Amish pedophile who had to drop out of the production. How often do you hear about an Amish pedophile?) If you stick with the recording to the end, it will give you goosebumps.