Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Friday, August 7, 2015

Stratford Sundries 5

1. Thursday night we saw yet another wonderful Shakespearean production--Love's Labour's Lost, which, in some ways (as I've pointed out in blog posts over the years), is the Grandfather of all Bromance/Immature Young Men stories that proliferate these days on TV and films (think: Judd Apatow).
  • Four young men (of nobility in Navarre) vow to eschew the company of women and to mew themselves up for three years to study and learn.
  • No sooner have they sworn their oaths than a princess of France arrives with her entourage. Oops.
  • Love breaks out. The men quickly break their vows to one another and are sneaking around, writing (hilariously bad) love sonnets to the women, etc. Trying to make sure the other guys don't know what they're doing.
  • There are some subplots that savagely satirize pretentious intellectuals and teachers (!!!), but I'll not get into them now. (And not because it's personally painful!)
  • This play--as I noticed for the first time (seeing it right after The Taming of the Shrew)--is a far more verbal play than Shrew. Everyone is punning and playing with language--from the boy (Moth) to the more elderly pedagogue and cleric. Words become a bush behind which to hide yourself--or a weapon to wield to wound another. I loved that Stratford said, in effect, Hey, you aren't going to understand all this word play (I didn't), but here it is. Deal with it.
  • It helped, of course, that (once again) there was a superb cast, from loquacious principal to silent servant, including a wonderful Berowne (the lead among the men), played by young Stratford veteran Mike Shara (he's in the photo below). We've watched him grow for years into one of the strongest performers up here.
  • It's a play about the men, really: The women are constant (mature); the men are mercurial (immature). They need to learn how to love; the women will teach them.
  • At the end of the play, a Darkness arrives to chill the frivolity, but I'll not spoil it. But, basically, the women tell the men to go away for a year, to grow up; then the women will think about marriage. Sound familiar?
  • BTW: the title. Can be translated: The Labor of Love Is Lost. The first apostrophe indicates a possessive; the second, a contraction.

2. The wireless remains wonderful!

3. Our matinee today was quite a change from what we've been seeing. It was Possible Worlds, a recent play by Canadian playwright John Mighton. Produced in the very small Studio Theatre here (where they tend to do, well, "different" plays in their repertoire), it deals with the possibility of multiple universes--and with the possible imaginings of the disembodied brain.

  • Virtually the entire stage was a very shallow wading pool. At the beginning, a naked (Adamic) man is lying in it; he rises, dresses--and not too many eyes are averted, though I'm sure Joyce was not really paying attention.
  • Then a couple of stories commence: (1) the man's belief that he's living simultaneous lives (we see a few of them); (2) a police investigation into some murders that involve only the "theft" of the victim's brain.
  • Only five players--all were very, very good. No intermission (it ran about 90 minutes). It also provoked some extensive conversations between two residents of Hudson, Ohio. (Though--in one of our other universes--we didn't talk about it at all.)

4. Okay: nudity on the stage. I've seen it a few times--even in a Shakespeare play up here some years ago (Troilus and Cressida). But my favorite story? In late July 2003, my brother Richard took Mom, Joyce, and me to see the one-man play Nijinsky's Last Dance at the Berkshire Theater Festival. Written by one of Richard's friends, the story is told and performed by Nijinsky, the wondrous dancer, who is now in an asylum. Well ... partway along, Nijinsky strips to his ... Adamic self. We were in the front row--with my mother (I've known few women more ... prudish; fittingly, her name is Prudence)--and it was all Richard and I could do to prevent ourselves from howling. (He had not known--he swears to this day--that nudity was in the offing (so to speak).) And let me add--from the front row, Nijinsky's attributes were not subtle.

Later, leaving, Mom said, "That man had the worst bunions I've ever seen."

Couldn't agree more. Although I hadn't exactly been looking at his feet.

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