Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Tempest

And in other cultural news...

Just saw a production of The Tempest, outdoors in the great metropolis of Nashua, NH. Two of the homeschoolers we've seen many times—they played Romeo & Juliet together—were in it. Much of the rest of the cast were older.

It was performed on stage in a park. A nice setting, but the acoustics were poor. We sat fairly close and could hear everything except when planes or motorcycles passed by. Midway thru the production some teenage girls collected in front. Some while later, as a scene ended, the three got up giggling, one said “Great job, everyone”, and they skittered off in teenage hilarity.

There was barely any set to speak of, and most of the cast dressed in ordinary modern clothes. Ariel wore a sprite-rated gown, Caliban was properly outré, and Trinculo, played by a female, inexplicably wore a flouncy, parti-coloured tutu. Most of the men wore shirts with ties. And guns were in the pockets of the murderous ones.

The play rollicked along, with no stops for acts. Players came in from the audience quite a bit, and Trinculo lay drunk near me at one point. It was a decent production.

I did not care for the woman who played Caliban, but I do not think I would care for anyone who played Caliban. I think of the Monty Python skit featuring the hospital for overacting. You see all these Richards lamenting excessively about their kingdom for a horse. I fear Caliban may be inextricably linked to that sort of performance, tho to be honest, I have never seen a performance of The Tempest before (not counting that scifi movie with Leslie Nielsen, in which Robbie the Robot played Caliban (and played the role well!)).

One of the players had a thick New England accent that verged on JFK's, tho it must be said that JFK's accent was some sort of concoction merely influenced by the New England tongue. Prospero was Brit, most the rest American, altho the girl who played Ariel, former Juliet, has a British mother and Canadian father, and speaks that way.

A nice touch came at the end when sailors arrived on the island to save everyone. They were dressed as Gilligan and the Skipper. Chortle.

The Tempest is a nifty play, especially reckoning Shakespeare himself as the magister Prospero. Vaunted Shakespeare has become a tiresome conceit. It is fair to reckon him within the sphere of entertainment as well as grand literature. I say this thinking of Prospero begging for applause at the end. I think we must concede his humanity. Winter's Tale (or whatever was) is kind of a crappy ending for his career, you ask me. That was, btw, the first homeschool production that we saw. A decent production, but the play is kind of crackers. To me it is Willie Mays with the Mets, flubbing a basket catch or falling down on his way to first after singling. Anyway, gee, a free performance of Shakespeare.

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