Category Archives: Theater Review

Double Identity and Feelings

Lyman High School’s Lymlight Production of Dr. Jekyll an and Mr. Hyde was excellent. It was nice being on my old campus. I was anxious to see the adaptation because I had taught the classic novella only a few weeks earlier at The Ampersand School.
The interpretation of the diaries, the epistolary effects of disjointing, and mixing monologue with flashback was great and came through clearly. The device of the magician’s presto-chango door was kitschy yet clean and effective.

Using the Victorian period’s phenomena of bodysnatching, and burgeoning science butting heads with spiritual ethics as a story arc showed understanding. The brothel asides were distractingly hideous.

I have a few very specific complaints. The stage work, acting, lighting, music, direction and passion are not among them. The inappropriate female dress across the board and the adaptation’s use of highly sexualized characterization are. If this were in any other theater, I’d be fine. In a high school, not so much. When the Man Servant, Poole, is reimagined as a female, it doesn’t follow that a distinguished Dr’s. head mistress would be dressed as a can-can extra for the Moulin Rouge.

It didn’t escape me that the highly stylized production was closer to rock opera than Victorian classic stageplay. The only thing missing was a Meatloaf solo. It came off a little closer to Rocky Horror Picture Show then Robert Louis Stevenson
I suppose my gripe is with the author of the adaptation: Jeffrey Hatcher. The Hyde character’s emotional enmeshment with Elizabeth and his resulting concern of the safety of this hooker, fails big time. Hyde has no conscience. To have him scare away a woman for her own protection is squarely in contrast to the alter-ego’s purpose. It only serves to invite shallow melodrama into the wannabe rock opera.
Again, having a high school cast lose the books meaning, in favor of a reality show plot, is not why I applauded. The great acting certainly was.

I can’t be the only one who knows it’s inappropriate to shove a teenager into a bustier and heels and claim it’s okay because it’s a performance…can I?

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Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) at Orlando Shakespeare Theater

I like my little office. Hopefully someday, the works I create here will be bound into a seemingly impossible volume. It will be so instrumental in this, and the next few centuries that many will find it hard to understand  and barely relevant, but still masterful. They will modernize it it awkwardly unnecessary ways in order to make it hip. They will attack the books with fervor without first studying my era, language, writing style or any of the back stories which I have represented.

I know my volumes will have reached full adoration and canonization when a comedy troupe, albeit full of scholars in the area of me, proceeds to put on a menagerie of my work, in in a cacophonous whirlwind and still do it justice and pay due respect  One can dream.

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause:

And now don’t I sound so much smarter. I qouteth Hamlet. The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) is 37 plays wrapped into one sketch comedy bit.  Sure there’s an intermission, but it precede’s the rendition of Hamlet. It is necessary to give them a breath and let the Zamboni come out and smooth the ice. I saw the final run at Orlando’s Shakespeare Theater just this afternoon. The theater is nice. The tickets were reasonable. They serve crap wine at the concession, but allow you to bring it into the theater and sip it from self important plastic stemware during the show. How do I know it’s crap wine? I sold it for $9 a bottle -touristy beachfront dining price- a few years ago. I digress. If you have never been to Orlando’s museum and cultural complex, visit it before Disney. Visit it instead of Disney. As a resident of the Greater Orlando affiliated area, I beg of you to peer through thicker prescription glasses of our town-increasing your acuity-before putting on 4 fingered white gloves and mouse ears, effectively numbing your senses.

The troupe began by introducing themselves, with schtick. They continued by schtickin it up and introducing The Bard, and schticked the whole production, lampooning even themselves before doing a quick-take of Hamlet in reverse, schticking the landing.

This could be all or none of the plays….

Some liberal politics and just enough inappropriate sexual innuendo (no more than ol’ Billy provides actually) complete the equation. The 5 minute opening with Romeo and Juliet was educational, in case you haven’t heard of the play. Except for the Hamlet redux at the end, the rest was an amalgam, a mash-up if I may be so social-media hip. All the comedies done as one episode of The Love Boat Goes to Venice was genius. The subtlety of introducing Love Boat-esque guest stars: Charro, Jim J Bullock, Charles Nelson Riley, (insert full celebrity panel from Match Gameand Little Jodie Foster, was the nail that gave the coffin validity. The football play by play while the Crown of England was tossed from one Monarch to another, at least recognized the titles. Throwing a flag for an illegal fictional king (Lear) did the histories the injustice they deserved.  I thought the “Once more into the breach…Band of Brothers” speech was ripe for riffing, but it was left out.

I just recently watched Coriolanus. See the Movie Mayhem review. It was disappointing that they ignored that one, only because I knew it and it would have validated me in front of my wife. They did mention that the word anus was part of the title, and then moved on. Fair enough.  I would recommend seeing this production live. I am sure it is good on film. Shakespeare is too. But live is the way it was meant to be seen.

I give this production, to which I could not give enough of an explanation, 3 great actors and a bad crowd participant.

Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) at Orlando Shakespeare Theater.