Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Winter's Tale at BAM

Last night was a true cultural treat for me and my sig oth. We ventured out to Brooklyn for three hours of the Bard. The play was Sam Mendes' production of "The Winter's Tale," starring Simon Russell Beale (aka Charles Musgrove from Persuasion), Sinéad Cusack (Mrs. Thornton from North and South), and Morven Christie (Rose Maylie from Oliver Twist) as well as superstars Ethan Hawke and Rebecca Hall, the latter of whom is now at the top of my list for Dorothea candidates in Mendes' maybe-we'll-see-it, maybe-we-won't Middlemarch.

So aside from being six degrees of period drama awesomeness, and giving me the realization that hey! BBC dramas are unfuckingbelievably good because they utilize the world's top Shakespearean actors, I really adore the play on its own merits. For those who don't know it, TWT starts out as a tragic family drama, with a raging, jealous king wreaking havoc on his family. Then it skips ahead 16 years for an interlude of bawdy pastoral fun with the progeny of the main characters and some country bumpkins. Then the play gets serious again as it reconciles the two halves. It's a really interesting and moving work, full of meta-commentary on the nature of comedy and tragedy and art vs. reality as well as a humanistic approach to the themes of jealousy, forgiveness, power, and love. Basically it's little bit of everything Shakespeare does best thrown together in a provoking way. Plus the female characters in this play are SO AMAZING. They are just wonderful, strong, self-realized characters who steal the show.

Mendes' production was very strong, if a bit slow and Mendes-y at moments, but he does draw great performances out: the acting was top-notch, especially from the Brits. Ethan Hawke hammed it up as one of the comic characters, and the music and scenery were lovely and well done. It was well worth the hour subway ride from the northern of Manhattan and the accidental detour into East Harlem we took on the way back :) (but it did lead us to a 24-hour Dunkin Donuts, which is really the best way to digest Shakespeare!)

Here's Ben Brantley's review.

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