Results tagged “king lear” from Drama Queen

south_park_guitar_queer-o.jpgThis week I'm macking on: This kid. For taking a South Park episode and bringing it to glorious life on the pages of the New York Times. In the Arts section. Only problem is, he can actually play some instruments, which seems pretty unfair. I mean, isn't the whole point of Guitar Hero that you can shred on guitar without having to actually know anything about the guitar? What a tool.

This week I'm hating on: Al Pacino as King Lear. I mean, really? Who's gonna play the Fool, Steve Buscemi? And what, James Gandolfini and Edie Falco are Albany and Goneril? And hey, wait a minute, didn't I review something like this last summer at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival? Yes, I did, and the whole "Gangland Lear" ended up being a pretty cool metaphor. Which means I might might actually be macking on Pacino, after all, which means...

This week I'm hating on: Will Ferrell. For being right. Read the first two paragraphs of Ben Brantley's review of Ferrell's new, sold-out Broadway show You're Welcome America. A Final Night with George W. Bush. Great punchline; all too true. 

February 6, 2009 4:00 PM |
Shakespeare.jpgOver the weekend I attended a production of King Lear at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, and was struck by Will's endless malleability. He is all things to all people, and in this case, bent obligingly to an interpretation of Lear's usurpers as wiseguy goombahs, pretenders to the throne who bow and scrape with one hand resting on a shiv. It's so head-smackingly obvious, but still, it's by no means a definitive interpretation. In fact, it's pretty clear that unlike the man who, "in his time plays many parts," Shakespeare keeps on evolving long after his time. As long as the English language appears onstage, I doubt a definitive Shakespeare production will ever emerge. Drop him anywhere in the last half-millennium--or heck, just throw a dart at any decade in the 20th century--and somehow he works. 

I'm well aware this isn't an original observation, but I dunno, I guess every year I enter Shakespeare season filled with some vestigial dread of bad Elizabethan impersonators and iambic pentameter endurance tests, and each year someone shifts the perspective just enough to allow the excitement of rediscovery to come flooding back. There are clunkers in his canon, it's true, but they're so rarely produced that when they do pop up it's always a treat to see them come to life outside of the printed page.

I don't know why other playwrights haven't lent themselves to so much subjective interpretation. Despite Vanya's arrival on 42nd Street, Chekov is usually presented in context. Marlowe doesn't have any companies devoted to his works (at least none that I know of). And though the Greeks often get a makeover, it's not one Greek and one play's original text reimagined a dozen different ways every summer across the country. 

Inept Shakespeare productions can ruin you for life--my father-in-law was so scarred by compulsory elementary school viewings of subpar productions he refuses to give the man another chance. And even loyalists have to wonder how many versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream it takes until they finally reach the tipping point? 

Well, here's the answer: it only takes a couple of bad ones. But when a director comes along to patch some new element in the culture to the precise spot where the script has become worn, the whole thing is so magical again you can almost see the fireflies. 

PSF's Pulp Fiction Lear served as a literal reminder that the bard was the straight-up O.G. And I'm already looking forward to seeing what insights Ian McKellan's naked Lear will, ahem, reveal.


July 14, 2008 2:15 PM |
In honor of all the drama-loving daddies out there, here's a list of my top five favorite stage fathers. (Note: they were not necessarily chosen for their parenting skills.)

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5.: Max, The Homecoming. The kind of father that could make you wish your grandmother had an abortion.

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4.: Daddy Warbucks, Annie. The dad every little girl in the 1970s wished she had... Even if her real dad bought her the tickets. And the original cast recording. And took her to Broadway to see the show. In a limo. And to Tavern on the Green for dinner afterward. Sorry, dad.

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3: Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof. A father whose ability to irritate his daughters (and still make them feel guilty about it) transcends both time and race.

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2.: Willy Loman, Death of a Salesman. Of course. This was the character that--if you hadn't yet realized your parents weren't ever going to change--brought some very bad news.

1.: Lear, King Lear. See, it's not just your kids; they've been ungrateful for centuries.

It's actually not so easy to find meaty dramatic daddy roles. Mothers are a piece of (usually dried out, tragic) cake. Medea, Gypsy, Grey Gardens, The Glass Menagerie, Hamlet, that's 10 seconds of thought, and the very tip of the frigid maternal iceberg. Unless you count absent, dead or theoretical dads, or uncles in a paternal role, there are precious few of them from which to choose--although come to think of it, Eurydice's Father in Sarah Ruhl's version of the myth might have to take the unofficial sixth position, dead or not. 

Anyway if you have a different top 5, by all means, send it in, and happy father's day!

June 14, 2008 12:55 PM | | Comments (1)
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