Rebels and such
The theme for Shakespeare’s Globe’s production, the cycle that I saw, was “Rivals.” Richard III, arguably a superior performance, back to back with Taming of the Shrew – both about rivals. Richard II, also about a rivals and pretenders to the throne, as was Marlowe’s Edward II. One of the better parts of actually being in the UK, though, is access to their media, the printed word. Newspapers. Tabloid British publications.
“Me wee mum” and I agreed to disagree on the papers we would read. I would opt for the Guardian, whereas she stuck with the Times.
(Stupid trivia, the typeface named “Times,” where does it come from?)
In my baggage, I found a Guardian article I’d saved, a long and eloquent piece about the late Johnny Cash. It was in their “Friday Review” dated 19.09.03 –
Apparently, it was also one of Cash’s last interviews. Good, good stuff. Rebel to the end. I’m in awe of the way the Brits eulogized an American icon.
I got searched going through security before the UK departure. I was trying to find a way to phrase it, but I kept to myself, during the search, all the while, thinking things like, “Last time I got patted like that, we did a lot more than kiss….”
It’s a cultural difference, I would suppose. While I would trot out (or cantor) a Texas Twang whenever it required, by the end of the trip, I’d remembered that the dry, British sentiments don’t always respond well to our sweeping, western ways.
Kinky Friedman, the scholar, the scribe, once noted that, “It doesn’t matter if your destination is heaven or hell, if you’re flying in Texas, you’ll go through Dallas.” Arrived at gate A-2. Connected out of Gate C-36.
How is this better? Last time? It was gate C-38, even further. We’re making some progress here. Same terminal would be a dream, but at least the gates are getting a little closer together.
Monday night, if I get chance to search for this I will, that Midsummer’s Night’s Eve production was rather astounding and amazing.
It was roughly a dozen males, playing all the parts. The words came out the way they were intended, or so I’m guessing. Probably much like the way it was done about 400 years ago, on the other side of the river.
It was a simple stage, and when the curtain went up a few minutes early, all the players assembled on the stage, all dressed in white, to me it looked like they were all just wearing long johns. I was thinking, “Stinking experimental theater.”
The play’s the thing, and when Hermia entered and started speaking, I was in love. No, I wasn’t in love with the actor, good lord, not that at all. I was in love with the character. The actor was a short guy with sharp features, and like other actors playing female roles, he donned a corset to make him appear vaguely female. Which didn’t really appeal, but the way he acted his part, that’s where I felt the growing sense of love in my heart. Something about an Adam’s apple bobbing up and down that really doesn’t speak to me about physical attraction. But that boy sure could play Hermia’s role. Sweet, demure, ever so attached to Lysander and all this much against the will of her father plus the king of Athens, who sides with her Hermia’s father.
The other one who was really, really good, was the guy doing Helena. Oh, the way it works, Lysander is in love with Hermia, and Hermia is a promised to Demetrius, who claims to have once loved Helena, but now Demetrius loves Hermia, but Helena still stoically, stupidly, comically loves Demetrius.
The guy playing Helena had her down cold. What’s better, and I’ve seen this play a half dozen times, what was so nice, the way the actors worked through the verse, rhyming their way through the text? It all made perfect sense, the prose was clear, the plot was sublime, and the actors have obviously studied foolish mortals.
It’s hard to add slapstick to Shakespeare. There’s a bit in 12th Night that can be amusing, but it’s around Act IV, in Midsummer, where the two guys are both chasing Helena, much to her discontent, because she only liked the one guy when he had his eyes on another, and the resulting scene was too good.
The slapstick was like a carefully choreographed martial arts scene. Timing was impeccable. The four actors pegged it perfectly, with everyone flying around all confused about who loves whom.
There was one or two moves, one in particular, using suspenders, that seemed to be lifted straight out of classical film, burlesque slapstick, from the really old days.
Dollar for dollar, point for point, as much as I loved dear Hermia in the first three acts, in the last two acts, I will dig out more material from Helena. That guy playing her had the perfect comic touch. She – the character – was so over-wrought.
Helena of Athens with, for three and half acts, unrequited love for Demetrius.
To see a guy with distinctly thinning hair and an odd, misshapen corset doing the “damsel in distress” so well….
I couldn’t help but giggle about it as I traveled.
The most disturbing portion of my trip? Finding out that I didn’t have the complete set of text files for Midsummer. I mean, I usually carry all the files on the laptop, just for a reference.
Got home and found this in the mail box. Rather liked it, but I’m jet-lagged all to hell and back. I’m not sure I know my own name.
One more item about that play, Midsummer’s Night’s Eve, as I recall, in the beginning, the King is talking about the new moon being only four days away… Monday night, the new moon was about four days away, just a little touch of magic – real magic – or so it seemed.