Let that be a lesson to you, sir. Never take anyone for granted.
~ Sir Percy, The Scarlet Pimpernel
Strange Life of Ivan Osokin
OFF WITH THEIR HEADS
20 August 2004
Who knew the French Revolution could be so much fun?
[I am writing this before I fly off to New Jersey and will post the link when I get there. I figured it would be rude to spend time writing a long entry as soon as I get to a stranger's home.]
Just before we left, we went to see The Scarlet Pimpernel, my last review before I leave on my weekend trip. This was a show about which I knew essentially nothing, and what a delightful surprise it was. I described it as Les Miserables meets La Cage aux Folles.
Unfortunately, Marguerite falls victim to the evil Chauvelin, a former lover, who threatens to tell her soon-to-be husband of their affair if she does not give him information about the whereabouts of certain friends of Percy's. She gets the information and makes Chauvelin promise that he will only arrest the people, not kill them. But of course, Chauvelin, being a mean nasty dude, has every intention of killing them, and does.
The character of Chauvelin could have stepped right out of Les Mis. Not only does he look like, sound like, and dress like Inspector Javert, but the actor who played him (William Michals) had also played Javert.
Even the music was reminiscent of Les Mis. Chauvelin's first song, "Madam Guillotine" could easily have been plucked right out of the other play.
So we have betrayal and killing and people getting their heads chopped off (fantastic guillotine scene--I knew they were going to show the head getting chopped off and damned if I can figure out when the switched from the real guy to the model. Unless, of course, this is such a plum role that they have people willing to give their all in the name of realism! But I doubt it.)
How, then, does this become a comedy? ( Not exactly a comedy, but a musical with decidedly comedic overtones.) Well, it does because Marguerite's groom, Percy (now there's a manly name for you) is more than he appears. He and his buddies dress as "fops", mincing around the stage looking for all the world like the cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
It's their cover. The more effeminate they become, the less likely anybody is to suspect that they really are sailing off to France to rescue people from the guillotine. Following the death of his friends, Percy has decided he can no longer stay uninvolved. Chauvelin has made it his obsession to find The Scarlet Pimpernel and bring him to justice.
"Action and hijinks ensue."
Of course it all comes out right in the end, Chauvelin gets his commuppance, Percy and Marguerite reunite, once Percy realizes that she was blackmailed, and there is a little shaggy dog story stuck in, to give the audience a real groaner.
It was all great fun. What's even better is how much easier it has become to write reviews when I'm well rested. I've taken to taking a nap on the nights when I am going to a show and rarely have trouble staying awake, even in shows that I find boring. This review kind of flowed effortlessly, but mostly because it was such a fun show and so rife for comparison to other shows.
From New Jersey: I have arrived. It took almost as long as it took to get to Singapore last year to get here, but I'm here. Coming into Dallas there was lightning and the ground crew can't come out during lightning. The pilot said we were being delayed by "lightning and lawyers." We sat 1/2 plane length from the parking place for an hour and a half. Then there was time on the ground--about 2 hours, during which time I stayed on the plane and slept. When the passengers were loaded again, the plane developed an electrical problem that involved getting an electrician to check it out (there was an ear-piercing sound coming over the loudspeaker, due to water that had leaked into the cockpit). When that was finally fixed, we were in a 45 minute queue to take off. We were scheduled to pull into Philadelphia at 11:15 and we got here at 2:20. By then it was too late to do any sightseeing, so we just came on home. A very weird day! More details tomorrow. I'm off to see if I can't sleep a little.