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Recent Shakespeare

I thought I would have mentioned it, but apparently not: earlier this month I went to this year's Shakespeare on the Common, which was Twelfth Night. The performance was decent, but when they got to the plot against Malvolio, I remember cringing through that part of last year's Theatre@First performance, and decided to bug out. I didn't want to sit through "unpleasant people being unpleasant (to each other)", as I thought of it, again. Didn't really enjoy watching the drunken revelers, either. Well done, but not fun.

Tonight, I went to the first Theatre@First production of "Henry IV", which I guess was a heavily abridged mashup of both plays, and with a couple gender changes (Lady Northumberland, Dame Joan Falstaff, couple other female castings besides Lady Percy and the hostess.) Well done, overall. Hotspur was good (and I don't say that just because I'm connected to the actor), Hal and King Henry were good. Falstaff... if the role is supposed to be *funny*, that didn't work for me.

I cringed again at the double robbery. Could call it "unpleasant people being unpleasant", but I think the more succinct version would be that I don't like watching sadism. Malvolio didn't deserve it at all -- sorry, I sympathize with the guy yelling "keep it down!". Falstaff's a rogue and a thief but still, I don't find making a fool of him funny, I just want to be far away from everyone involved.

The angry father on his deathbed was very well done, but close to trigger territory for me, I found, combining memories of "alcoholic father yelling in bed" and "sick father in deathbed".

Production values minimalistic. Modern clothing costums, simple evocative set. Lots and lots of incandescent light bulbs.

Theater@First Henry IV 20140821
Theater@First Henry IV 20140821
Theater@First Henry IV 20140821
Theater@First Henry IV 20140821

So, recommendable if you like Shakespeare with some liberties. Me, I think I'm finding my taste is running toward fluff and heroes, or at least solidly decent people. This may help explain why I haven't rushed to watch more Game of Thrones.

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Damien Sullivan

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December 2018


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