November 12, 2006

Drown cats and blind puppies

Tonight my girlfriend (who is pretty much amazing) took me to see Othello at the Blackfriars Playhouse. It was incredible. For those of you who don't know the playhouse is the world's only re-creation of Shakespeare's original indoor theatre. It was my first time visiting the theatre which is about a half-hour from Charlottesville. And lucky for us, the Shenandoah Shakespeare company knows their stuff.

From the get go I was impressed at how fast the language barrier was broken down. I've always found that when seeing live Shakespeare, there is a certain amount of time from the beginning of the play that the audience needs to adjust to what they're hearing. How a cast handles this transitional period can be very important to how well its audience understands the show in the long run. This might have been the most fluid I have ever seen this phenomenon handled. Then again, maybe I just know Othello too well.

But as the play progressed, a number of other thoughts occurred to me. First of all - that this cast was amazing. Truly it was solid all the way around...well... except for the Duke of Venice who seemed to me too eager to dictate the pace of the play himself, rather than letting the words do the work. But then again, there seems to be one in every cast. I got to wondering whether or not this fellow was indeed a bad actor or was just being upstaged by every other cast member and thus was only seeming sucky relative to his peers. Perhaps in a lesser cast he would shine. Unfortunately for him, given this small sample size, I must confess he was the weakest link.

Another aspect that was unlike any other Shakespeare experience I've had (let's not talk about the time I saw Midsummer whilst on shrooms...wait, does sarcasm read via blogs?) was the impact of the theatre itself on the performance. I saw a distinct and unique impact resulting from the architecture. The interaction of cast members with the audience was more direct and fun than ever before. Soliloquies and asides were made stronger and clearer than ever due to the unique seating and lighting of the Blackfriars. The most evident example of this was Emilia's lecture to husbands warning them that their wives were clever. The delivery made me feel as though Shakespeare was preaching to the men of his day. "Boys, beware how you treat your women! They're smarter than you think!"

All in all it was a beautiful evening.
Eat your heart out Lovers and Madmen.

PS. Cats really do suck (not that I condone drowning them). They always waltz around like they own the joint. They think they're better than they are. Rarely have I met a cat who shows genuine affection. And certainly I have not met one which displays the unconditional love and loyalty of a dog. Of course every couple with a cat claims I would love their cat. That their cat acts just like a dog. Bull. What would be the point of that anyway? Just get a dog already!


Hal said...

I haven't seen anything Shakespearian (sp?) in a long time, so I'm a bit jealous. We read Othello in my senior english class, and I'm probably one of the 3 people in the room who understood what was going on.

As for cats, well, you're mostly wrong. It's all about the personality (just like people, or teenagers). Some cats have obnoxious personalities, and some have great personalities. I'll show you at Christmas.

Jared and Beth said...

See. Once again a cat lover is convinced I'll like his cats.
Sorry stand by my claim.

Anonymous said...

Everytime I read Othello (I've never seen it outside of the recent Hollywood remake entitled "O") I am struck by how much Husband resembles the lead. I actually get a little bit frightened.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I dislike cats, too.

Hal said...

Hey, I didn't say you'd like them. I just said that whether or not they're jerks depends on the personality of the cat.