nineweaving: (Default)
[personal profile] nineweaving
The Actors’ Shakespeare Project is back on form.  They’ve done some amazing productions over the years—a water-elemental Twelfth Night and a galleried Henriad and a Cherry Orchard so poignantly comic that I forgave them for doing it in an inaccessible venue in the wake of a blizzard.  They’d found an immense drawing-room of exactly the right period to play it in, and packed it up around the audience.  Oh, and that 2 Henry VI, with Gloucester doubling as Jack Cade as Mr. Punch. 

But they’d lost ground of late.  Last season, they did A Winter’s Tale with so few players that Mamillius had to be a small voice off.  Doesn’t work.  (The best local Twelfth Night I’ve seen had a wonderful grave child with a teddy bear, who haunted Leontes’ soliloquies.)  The ASP Hamlet last fall was swallowed by the church they played it in; their Tempest (with Prospero and Milan cross-cast) had a sadly weak Miranda and Ariel, but an absolutely cracking Caliban/Stephano/Trinculo trio.  I was getting worried.

But they’ve come back amazingly this spring.  They did a stunning bath-house Edward II, with “Vndique mors est” painted starkly on the wall behind the audience.

And I’ve just come from a lovely little Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by the Revels veteran Patrick Swanson, in which the double and triple casting works like a marvellous toy.  Oberon and Titania/Theseus and Hippolyta, of course; but also Egeus/Bottom and Philostrate/Puck; and a quartet of endlessly inventive young actors as the lovers and the rude mechanicals and their Pyramus and Thisbe avatars and the fairy court.  (The downside being that they can’t snark at themselves in their play.)  All excellent, but I was much taken with two new players.  Equiano Mosieri is a scarily enticing Oberon, all menace and mischief.  Monica Giordano as Snug is the epitome of all Helena’s insecurities; but just at the end of her performance you see her lose herself in Lion, batting and blowing and inhaling that mantle with a kittenish ferocity.  When she steps back, she’s glowing like a child with joy.  Steven Barkhimer is most of an utterly fantastic  Bottom (his me-thought-I-had is played by someone else’s arm, upholding an apple which Titania bit).  And he plays the bones, duetting with Titania on finger cymbals.  Bliss. 

The rest of the music is a cello in the gallery, and songs (their “Philomel, with melody” setting is lovely).  There’s no scenery, except a rollaway bank-whereon for the FQ and Bottom; the effects and properties are goofy, the magic flowers being trick bouquets, and Peaseblossom &c. being puppets.  Hermia’s dream, though, is amazing:  a serpent made of fairies, advancing through and through each other’s legs.

A young girl (nine? ten?) I spoke with in the intermission had had her parents bring her back a second time:  “This is my favorite play in the world.”  That’s doing Shakespeare right.

Three more performances, Saturday and Sunday

I bought a subscription to their upcoming “Downfall of Despots” season.  I hope it works.


Date: 2017-06-03 06:00 am (UTC)
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
From: [personal profile] sovay
A young girl (nine? ten?) I spoke with in the intermission had had her parents bring her back a second time: “This is my favorite play in the world.”


I bought a subscription to their upcoming “Downfall of Despots” season. I hope it works.

Amen. What's on the menu?

Date: 2017-06-03 11:27 am (UTC)
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
From: [personal profile] sovay
Ionesco's Exit the King, Julius Caesar, Richard III, and the somewhat less thematic Much Ado About Nothing.

Much Ado could fit the bill if they do it as a play against misogyny/toxic masculinity. The rest of those sound appropriate.

Date: 2017-06-04 02:08 am (UTC)
lauradi7dw: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lauradi7dw
Went to see it, at your suggestion, even though I keep saying that I never need to see another production of MSND. You were right; it's very well done. There was a bit with words in rhythm to background music that was amazing. Agreed about Berkhimer, but of the non-Plum women, I liked Hermia/Quince (Elle Borders) the best. Didn't like Theseus (Oberon was good), didn't like Puck, although I enjoyed the gimmick (along with your other examples of goofiness) of the cardboard Puck speeding around the world. I'm not sure what I want Puck to be, but it often seems to me that Puck is the weak link. My introduction to the play was the 1968 film, with Diana Rigg as Helena and Helen Mirren as Hermia (wouldn't the other way have made more sense?) that had Ian Holm (one is tempted to say "of all people") as Puck. I don't think he is the archetype for me. I was pleased to see just now that two little Denches had their only film roles as fairies. My favorite production ever was one by the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble, in about 1981 or so, which I actually only saw from backstage. The production folks decided that the background sound for the sprinkling of the magic juice should be change ringing on handbells, so we had a rota of ringers hanging around backstage, following along with the script. Arthur on an off night watched it with the audience, and reported that there was an intake of breath when the bells started.
The more I've seen it (or the better the acting), the less I can stand the mortal women's roles. The jealous cat-fights (what an awful expression, but there it is), Helena's "abuse me, just stay with me" stuff, and Hippolyta's spoils-of-war marriage are hard to watch. I had a brief moment of hoping that the blessing of the couples would leave out the bits about birth defects (did Shakespeare know someone with a cleft lip?), but no such luck.
Currently reading scholarly stuff about medieval views of disfigurement. I understand that 1595 is not regarded as the middle ages, but really, we haven't gotten over some of that stuff yet (we don't deliberately disfigure criminals any more, as far as I know). Oops - tangent.

Date: 2017-06-16 07:03 pm (UTC)
ethelmay: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ethelmay
Casting back,



nineweaving: (Default)

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