|Stratford (Ont.) City Hall|
August 1, 2016 (evening)
The adapter of the story (Olivier Kemeid) is very explicit at times—naming names of peoples on the move (oh, there are a lot these days, aren’t there?)—and showing with a startling harshness the conditions of frightened human beings on the run, of the smug temporizing of those who are settled and secure and who have the power—and the means—to help. But generally don’t.
There is no romanticizing here, either. There are “bad guys” on both sides of the fences, the walls. And the fighting Aeneas does is far from heroic—well, only insofar as survival is heroism. Which, of course, it often is.
Aeneas was played by a Stratford regular (the talented Gareth Potter), but most of the others were fairly new arrivals on the scene—and there was talent everywhere, with many in the cast playing multiple parts. I especially liked Seamer Usmani (Achates)--power, power, power.
Cast members played the parts of the ocean, of waves, of office furniture (!), of demons and others in the underworld, and other things, and, as a result, the production was very physically demanding for the (mostly) young cast. Lots of perspiration and heavy breathing by curtain-and-bows (though the Studio employs no curtains).
I liked, too, the rainbow colors of the cast—a reminder that expulsion and immigration are not limited to a single band of that rainbow but exist all across its hues.
I did feel the show was somewhat over-long and that a pair of scissors would have been useful during the early readings of the script.
2. I made a mistake in yesterday’s post (actually, mistakeS): We will see the conclusion of Breath of Kings this afternoon (not yesterday evening), and that production (Breath) compresses four, not three, plays into two. Yesterday it was Richard II and Henry IV, Part One; today, it’s Henry IV, Part Two and Henry V. These four collectively are sometimes called The Henriad.
And tonight, it’s A Chorus Line—quite a change from medieval kings, from the greatest poetry that ever flowed from a human being.
1. This afternoon we saw, as I said, the conclusion of The Breath of Kings: Redemption (the first part is subtitled Rebellion), and it was also very, very strong. We see the death of Henry IV, the ascension of Henry V, the fall of Falstaff (and his offstage death), the Battle of Agincourt, Henry's quick courtship of the French princess Katherine, who in the production also played her brother, the Dauphin! While she was onstage, she tore off the man's costume, and the woman's fell into place (jaw-droppingly cool!). Henry V, played by the young actor Araya Mengesha did fine--and can only get better with age and experience--quite a task, playing in the two parts of Henry IV + Henry V in a 24-hour period!
|Henry V at Agincourt,|
delivering the St. Crispin's Day speech--
link to that famous speech
In the round ("oval," as I noted yesterday), the stage had a platform over its entire surface, pieces of which they'd lift off from time to time to suggest a grave, a basement, or (near the end, at Agincourt) the disarray of war (many big pieces were scattered about by the end).
Soon, we'll be heading down to the Festival Theatre (the "big" venue) for the first time this year--about a mile's walk each way--to see A Chorus Line, the first time either of us has seen this production. I'm sure we'll dance and high kick all the way back to our room ...
2. Out on the street today, an older man (apparently much older than I) stopped us. I wondered: Am I going to hear an Ides-of-March warning now? But no: He told us a joke:
Wife to Husband: Do you know what I just saw on the television?
Husband to Wife: Dust?
The Soothsayer cackled and moved on.