Monday, July 31, 2006

A Few Notes On OSF 2006

A few notes from OSF 2006:

• At the end of THE WINTER'S TALE, I was in tears, which doesn't happen often to me, especially in the theater. I was especially struck by the fluid dance of status on the stage, especially between Leontes and Paulina. Every intention seemed perfectly matched to gesture, and every gesture had tangible and visible consequences in the reactions of every player on stage. Watching Leontes being pleaded with by his generals--who closed in on him with great care, one moment, then recoiled ever so subtly, the next, only to close again, in waves of shared agony--was a singeing catharsis, embodying the terror of a community at the madness of its leader. Hermione's statue coming to life at the end had not an ounce of absurdity or unintentional comedy. When she moved, I teared up.

• KING JOHN played out as a gorgeously choreographed chess game. The audience could understand each political maneouver and shift in alliance as much through the physical position of actors on stage as through the lines; when King John and King Philip agree to a brokered peace, they clasp arms; when Cardinal Pandulph insisted that France renege, their arms remained clasped until the last possible moment, so that when they finally part, the disaster reverberated.

• THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR was merrily done, and the audience sounded satisfied, but I couldn't find enthusiasm for it. The play is new for me. I found myself resenting the courseness of this Falstaff in this play, as opposed to the Henry plays.

• CYRANO DE BERGERAC was glorious, marvelously theatrical, and Cyrano himself a character such that made me ashamed not to be a greater man. Marco Barricelli, as Cyrano, made women swoon and men envious.

• TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA is also new to me. I didn't expect to like it much, but in fact, did. Launce is terrific, worth the price of admission (all the clowns this year are wonderful.) This production makes Verona into Amish country and Milan into a 1940s' movie version of New York or London, which worked beautifully, for me. And they sold the wacko ending of this play, ending it not on an entirely conciliatory note, without running totally against the lines; a neat trick.

All these shows shared in common impeccable choreography and beautifully realized physical life. Of course, physical life is THE quality to which I'm paying attention these days, as it is one of my own most immediate challange as an actor (I include as part of 'physical life' the quality of my connection with other actors on stage.)

This was a hugely satisfying trip, for me.


David Loftus said...

You should check out PAE's "Merry Wives," David. It will undoubtedly suffer by comparison to Ashland, of course, but it has its moments, and you'll enjoy seeing some friends (as well as young newbies to you and me) of the local acting community do their stuff. Apropos of your particular comments, PAE's Falstaff is fairly underplayed, I thought (some of the other roles are hugely overblown, often to good effect), which was refreshing. Since I didn't much like the play when I read it a couple months ago -- I thought it was badly warmed-over Chaucer -- I enjoyed it more than I expected to. Though plenty ribald, I understand it's been toned down from Monteverde's original conception -- some folks left 20 minutes in on opening day. Unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

I would note that it was "toned down" due to a earlier oversight by the artistic staff.
We run both a Children's Workshop (inviting the same Children to be in the the faerie attack at the end), AND then make the show fairly ribald. Some parents were rather offended since we had implied that the show was kid friendly. If it wasn't for that, I'd gladly take the angry letters. The show is, after all, about attempted adultry. We asked the actors to adapt a few of the more obvious crude gestures to be something more that an adult would get, but an 8-year old would miss.

-Jeremy (Master Ford) Lillie