Apr. 16th, 2017

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April 12 - Henry V, We Happy Few

We Happy Few are my theatre nerd buddies, and I had to hit opening night because that's when we go for drinks after and chat more about the show. Kerry directed and adapted this one, and it focuses more intently on the Cheapside boys than on Henry's attempts at leadership. Costumed in a punk idiom, the war councils feel like prep for gang fights, and the battles just keep coming. It makes for some interesting staging - "once more unto the breach" is rushed, hurried because they are in the middle of a battle, while the Crispin's Day speech is delivered to the gathering of leaders around the king's tent, not to the multitudinous throng of soldiers. Because the men at home are men "like us"; Henry isn't thinking about "no one of name" who are the major victims at Agincourt. Strong performances for the most part. Kiernan is a little too nice, a little too callow for Henry in my personal taste. He has a hard time playing a dick, and we have to remember that Harry is getting his old buddies slaughtered anonymously here, one by one. Great work from Natasha Gallop as the Boy. Beautiful lighting design yet again from Jason: the staging frequently has an actor on a drum box in one of the aisles, and that switches off between Henry and Pistol for the most part, so you have that actor softly lit, a ghostly observer of the action that falls below him or above him. And Kerry put in a scene just for me (I told you these were my theatre nerd buddies): I'd told her about how Garry Hynes had ended DruidShakespeare with Mistress Quickly in flashback, saying goodbye to her boys as they go off to war, then bringing up the lights to show her mourning in a graveyard of everyone who had died over the course of those four plays. It's damned effective. Kerry sent Mistress Quickly to war, and we get a similar scene as she's mourning the Boy's death - of her men coming back around her in an image of them in happier days - before she stumbles off stage.

April 13 - Three Sisters, Studio Theatre

Lord, these people are nuts. Incapable of action and disappointed in themselves but taking it out on everyone around them. Tuzenbach, you're sweet - you could have done so much better. It's a great company, especially Ro Boddie as Tuzenbach and Biko Eisen-Martin as Solyony who is basically a school shooter except he manages to make it a duel, instead, so Irina gets to live. But lord, these people. These people!

April 14 - No Sisters, Studio Theatre

Let's face it, the previous night was just the set up for the new Aaron Posner, which lets some very talented people have much more to work with. The setting for this one is "a weird-ass existential green room", and all the characters know they are in a play downstairs and a play up here, and they need this audience of strangers because they sure as hell aren't spilling their souls to the people they spend all day with. We're mostly guided by Masha's husband and get some fabulous rants from Andrei and Natasha. But you really need to have seen Three Sisters to understand what's going on. Unlike the others, this one is a companion piece. It can also start to feel repetitive and it's hard to tell if certain longueurs are scripted or a function of the pacing downstairs, but i really did adore it. It's warm and open and there for you. You want to give everyone a hug even as you want to slap them upside the back of the head.

April 15 - Tis Pity She's a Whore, Brave Spirits

The other half of the incest rep! Danny Cackley makes Giovanni marginally more sympathetic and thus not the actual worst - less manipulative in his justifications. Jenna is a very strong Annabella, frequently verging on sarcastic and in no way a victim of the others until her brother murders her. Some great lighting from Jason, again, emphasizing the darkness and isolation, which he can blame on the theatre space all he wants, but this is a play that cannot take place in daylight, otherwise the characters might actually see themselves and start to have concerns about how all this actually looks (yes, this means you, Richardetto, you absolutely useless 3rd level plot who should have just gone home after your wife was murdered). Some fun character drawing, especially Brendan Kennedy, and really great blood work from Casey Kaleba work out to an appropriately over the top but still horrific production.

Another 4 show week next week, but two are repeats: ushering Ragtime again and heading back to Henry V to see people again (and bring along James Plays because I want people to read the Henry scene at the beginning).

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Mme Bahorel

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