Monday, July 22, 2019

Weekly Margin 2019, W29: Hamlet, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery

Disaster struck my second attempt to see The Secret Life of Bees, as rainwater began leaking through the ceiling and dripping down the brick wall, causing the show to pause about twelve minutes in. Then as they cleared the area, the ceiling opened more and water started gushing down. Rather a disaster, but no one was injured and Atlantic handled things as best they could. It's bad luck, as the show closed that upcoming weekend so not many attendees were likely to be able to rebook--and as I left town Friday evening, I definitely wasn't. Holding out hopes that it gets that commercial transfer everyone thinks it will, so I can see it at last.

London Week Begins!

7/20/19: Hamlet

What: We kick off our London week with Iris Theatre's outdoor promenade production at St. Paul's Church. It's the same-ish story as The Lion King, but fewer lions. (you can call me the worst all you want, it won't stop me)
And? It's a tight-feeling cut of the show (though it still comes out to about two and a half hours), periodically moving the audience among different areas of the churchyard gardens as we follow the story of Hamlet's unintended self-destruction. This production has several different devices in play, some of which work more effectively than others (of all the Shakespeares, I think Hamlet is a much harder fit for a fascism frame than a number of the histories. That aspect ultimately feels forced without being activated or integrated with the rest of the piece). In this production, Hamlet, like their portrayer, is trans non-binary, and what then becomes particularly telling is the recognition of whom Hamlet is out to, who may suspect or outright know, and who is and isn't using the correct pronouns (going by the fact that court characters use masculine pronouns, but that schoolfriends Horatio and (initially) R&G use feminine, I infer that Hamlet is out at school but not at court). It lends a new and lovely affection and intimacy to Hamlet's relationship with Horatio, as well as an interesting edge to their relationship with Ophelia: how much does she know? She uses masculine pronouns when speaking to and of Hamlet, but is that only because she knows others are listening in? (A quick note: I looked at Jenet Le Lacheur's (Hamlet) twitter, which confirms she/they pronouns; my inference is that Hamlet’s pronouns are also she/they, as Horatio calls Hamlet "my lady," but Hamlet self-refers, in the Gravedigger scene, as "they." If I am being in any shape disrespectful or sweeping in my understanding, I welcome correction for my errors). I also know that Le Lacheur didn't want the production to just be about Hamlet's gender, as if it were a gimmick, but I didn't want to let this go by without celebrating their performance, or what this layer adds to the story.

Final wrap-up thoughts because I am sleepy and jetlaggy:

  • great performances from Jenet Le Lacheur (hot damn, the nunnery scene), Paula James (Polonius, Grave Digger, others, all marvelous), and Iris alum Jenny Horsthuis (Ophelia, Guildenstern, Fortinbras, others); 
  • for the rest, I don't think the text work is consistently strong or clear, and hearing is hampered by the side-effects of an outdoor space; 
  • being in the churchyard gardens, a stone's throw from Covent Gardens, is a real treat of atmosphere, with roaring crowds for street performers, music, and the clanging of the church bells--you'd think all that would be distracting but instead it helps further isolate this small kingdom from the world around it.

7/21/19: The Comedy About A Bank Robbery
What: A new comedy from Mischief Theatre (best known for The Play That Goes Wrong franchise). The title pretty much says it all.
And? Very very very silly and very very very fun. We had understudies for two of the male leads, but you'd never know they weren't the regulars. George Hannigan, who is billed in the program as playing "Everyone Else" (a fairly accurate analysis) is a particular delight. Mischief Theatre is adept, in addition to being very silly, at extraordinarily impressive physical feats of farce, and they do not disappoint here (that bird's eye scene was im-pres-sive!). I do have questions about the particularly aggressive population of seagulls hanging out in Minneapolis, however ...

Photo source (actors and photographer not given on site).

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