Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Plethora of Plays

As the title suggests, I saw plenty of plays this past weekend. Two of these were at the Guthrie, thanks to a handy little deal wherein people who work for nonprofits could get 4 tickets to select shows for FREE. Rachel and I of course had to take advantage of this offer, and so we found ourselves with tickets to Two Gentlemen of Verona and A Delicate Balance.

Verona was an interesting play; we showed up about 25 minutes late (curse you I-94 random rush hours!) but still understood what was going on for the most part (being one of Shakespeare's early comedies, this is not to be unexpected). The play was being set in 1950's/60's America, complete with Honeymooner's style slapstick, crooning tunes from a man with a pompadour, and big boat cars. The stage was set up like a TV set from the period, with a projected backdrop and huge TV cameras filming the show and showing it on two huge black and white screens. At the intermissions the "stage manager" would come out and corral the audience and actors about just as if it were a live TV show recording. Probably the best part of the show was the actor playing Lance, one of the "clownish attendants" of the main character. He got to do most of the Honeymooner's style slapstick, sing a couple of songs with pompadour back up, AND go to walk around on stage with a real dog, all to great effect. Some parts of the play were definitely wierd and felt a bit out of place (the thugs, calling what is apparently a CEO an emperor), but overall I enjoyed it.

On Monday we went to the "pay-what-you-can" night for Planting Shelly Anne, the play Teagle AD'd, which I also enjoyed. The play is about a mother and the challenges and worries that she faces on a daily basis: will she get her daughter to eat again, is her husband cheating on her, how can she stop the polar ice caps from melting, and- most importantly- will she get the tulips planted before the first frost? She tries to corral everything with a to do list, but inevitably ends up not doing those things she really wanted to get done. There's also some day dreams and a remarkable fever sequence, but really I think it was the first half of the play that sold me on it, mostly because of how it reminds me of my mom... minus the cheating husband and a couple of other things. She always seems to want to do a lot of things but only ever manages to do a few; every other second is taken up by taking care of a family that certainly loves her but often takes her for granted, leaving her no time to plant her metaphorical tulips.

Tuesday saw Kristine Mackin, Joe Knoedler and Nick Netland come up to go see A Delicate Balance with me. First off, the set was fantastic- an actual, working elegantly shaped staircase, huge bookshelves, and set walls that gave the illusion of a vast, black dome. As for the play, I believe my term is "queerly enjoyable." By this I mean the premise of the play made little sense, but I liked the reactions it provoked. I don't want to spoil it if you do see it, but the play deals with loneliness and our reactions to it: how do we seek comfort from loneliness, and to what extremes will we go to to get it. The actress playing the daughter, Julia, gave an especially impassioned performance and definitely highlighted the "extremes" part of securing solace from being alone against the world.

In non play news, I also:
-explained computer science through PB&J
-have been watching Buffy like a fiend
-have spent way too much time looking up Eldar tactica

So, until next time...

"How curious and interesting is the parallel--as far as poverty of biographical details is concerned--between Satan and Shakespeare. ...They are the best-known unknown persons that have ever drawn breath upon the planet."
-"Is Shakespeare Dead?", by Mark Twain

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