The inspired choice at the heart of this beautiful realization of Shakespeare’s vision in Twelfth Night is the creation of Illyria, the neverland in which Shakespeare set the play. There was no Illyria in Shakespeare’s time, and really had been no such nation since Roman times. Whatever Shakespeare was going for, it was not constricted by any realities contemporary to him. This meant that director Gavin Witt was free in turn to fashion something that in 21st-Century terms would correspond to Shakespeare’s fantasy. And what he presents is a kind of amalgam of the Marx Brothers’ Freedonia and the Warner Brothers’ Casablanca. There are slinky evening gowns you might see at Rick’s Café Americain. There is a hat that echoes a fez. There is an outfit like a Greek soldier’s. Sebastian and Viola wear plus-fours and Norfolk jackets, topped with newsboy hats. The costumes, by designer David Burdick, all fit together and, together with the set by Josh Epstein which suggests a colonnaded white town overlooking the Adriatic (locus of the ancient Illyria), convey a world between the two World Wars. It is at once idyllic and dangerous.
Posts Tagged ‘William Shakespeare’
Many of Shakespeare’s comedies are essentially love delivery vehicles, giddy confections that give the audience an extraordinarily broad license just to roll in the bliss of it. I think especially ofTwelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But the most love-mad of all is surely As You Like It. And thankfully, that love-mad champagne feeling is served up nearly full-force in the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s latest rendering of the play.
A jukebox musical, whatever its dramatic blueprint, is first and foremost a delivery vehicle for nostalgia. This is a popular thing and to a great extent a good one. It is no easy trick, though. Almost every song tells some sort of story. The stories in most songs, even the simplest ones, imply surprisingly extensive contexts, and taken together, these contexts tangle rapidly. There exist only a few possible fundamental ways to minimize those tangles.
H2O will leave you dealing not only with your feelings about the characters, but also reconsidering art, life, and The Meaning of It All.
Satan from Within: A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World at Contemporary American Theater Festival
If George Bernard Shaw had taken it into his head to write a sequel to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, with an assist from William Shakespeare, he might have come up with something much like Liz Duffy Adams’s A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World.
Director David Schweizer has employed the unique resources of a professional company to sand down some of the rough edges in the script, in a way smaller companies couldn’t do. Using those resources, he has sneakily transformed a mid-century work of American realism into something fantastical like Midsummer Night’s Dream or As You Like It, and thereby has solved a lot of problems.
The flaws I’ve mentioned are real, but are far from detracting altogether from the enjoyment Bus Stop has to offer. Inge not only speaks up for crazy love, but for rustics who in their own ways are crazy like foxes in their pursuit of it.
To the audiences thronging recent New York productions of The Common Pursuit and Clybourne Park, any effort by the playwrights to make a “just distribution of good and evil” would surely have seemed both unpalatable and dishonest. And the revival of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man [sic] shows the dangers of labeling choices and characters too confidently.
Revivals pose a unique set of challenges to those who stage them, and a unique set of questions to be considered by a contemporary audience. But great shows get invited back.
The musical Age of Gold in which I had grown up was just about over. Whatever the merits of whatever was coming next, it wouldn’t be the gold I still wanted. Wanted so badly, in fact, that I was willing to squint extra hard to see it in all the new vinyl that came sluicing into our house. But of course when you squint, you are apt to see things that aren’t, strictly speaking, uh, there.