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It's generally a sense of duty that compels parents to attend theatrical performances that involve their offspring. However, we didn't suffer at all this evening by attending A Comedy of Errors at the Young Lady's school (she helped design and build the set and was the Usher Captain for all four performances). This performance was distinguished by colorful Greek/Mediterranean costuming (ca. maybe 1800), a sun-drenched set that appeared to be white stucco building fronts (with many doors) around a town well, resolutely colorblind casting, solid acting in the key roles, and comedic pacing that many professional troupes might envy.

A Comedy of Errors (review)

The play opened with a pre-show carnival, that involved juggling, belly-dancing (quite good), street vendors giving out scarves and dried roses, and face-painting for the younger attendees. When the show actually started, the audience was primed to be amused. Egeon's long tale in the first scene might have snapped them right out of that mood - but a trio of puppeteers wandered down by the footlights and proceeded to act out his story with comically primitive hand-puppets, both prolonging the silly mood and making the tale more understandable to those not at ease with Shakespearian language.

Having avoided a slow start, the young cast proceeded to make merry with boundless energy - and lots of female-to-male cross-dressing. Both Dromios were played - and well-played - by female students, as were the various merchants. Luciana was African American, her sister Adriana Caucasian, and the same reversal was true of the two Antipholi (and was, incidentally, accurately portrayed in the puppet show). None of it mattered: all four handled the difficult lines skillfully, with good diction and excellent projection, as well as on-the-beat comedic timing. Delightful touches included a wandering violinist from the opening carnival who kept reappearing to underscore Adriana's self-pitying monologues (much to her annoyance), flamboyant gesturing and pantomime by the Dromios (one of whom was suddenly doing the Macarena at one point), the four hunky (and well-oiled) palanquin bearers who brought in the Courtesan (possibly an equal-fanservice answer to the belly-dancers), and an Antipholus leaning out of a window after a hectic chase scene to intone wearily "Dromio, Dromio, wherefore art thou Dromio?" - causing the freshmen audience members who are struggling through Romeo and Juliet this semester to lose it entirely.

Audience involvement was so complete that when Egeon was re-united with his long-lost wife - now the Abbess - in the last scene, and they embraced, the audience as one exclaimed "Awwwwww! "

A merry time was had by all!

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
fmanalyst
Nov. 11th, 2007 06:12 pm (UTC)
Sounds like great fun! And a Comedy of Errors is a good choice for a school play, since silliness is the whole point of the play.
chomiji
Nov. 11th, 2007 07:14 pm (UTC)

The theater teacher's husband was involved in theater in Britain, and he serves as assistant director for these efforts. He's really adept at bringing out the best in the kids. The instructor herself teaches Shakespeare in performance in Oxford during the summer. Their performance of Pirates of Penzance this past spring was pretty good, but it's easier for good theater teachers to coach bright kids through Shakespearian language than it is for them to get those same kids to sing well enough to make G&S sparkle. This production played to the directors' strengths. There were also some fun lighting effects and so on whenever the visting Antipholus spoke of dark magic - the lighting would shift abruptly to unnatural colors, and malicious, listening faces would suddenly appear at all the windows and peeping around the doorways.

bad_mushroom
Nov. 11th, 2007 08:35 pm (UTC)
Personally I'm starting to think that amateur productions of Shakespeare are far better than traditional ones, really. All of the great versions of Shakespeare I've seen have been either high school or community theater.
chomiji
Nov. 12th, 2007 02:53 am (UTC)

We saw this play at the New Globe in London last year, and it was certainly pretty good - but given the difference in ticket prices, this was a much better deal!

Of course, in London we were also paying for the experience of seeing a play at the New Globe ... .

bad_mushroom
Nov. 12th, 2007 05:24 pm (UTC)
This is true. Also: major jealousy. Still have not made it to Europe, though my family has certainly talked about it. We actually nearly went to Italy a few years back to visit our relatives, but my grandfather was too sick to go and he's the only one who actually speaks (or spoke; he died my freshman year in high school) Italian :(
chomiji
Nov. 14th, 2007 02:50 am (UTC)

The Mr. is not that good a traveler (he likes to travel to do specific things, and at the end of the day, would much rather have his own bed ...), and also we tend to fritter away a lot of our nonessential budget in things like eating out, and in the last year or so, professional theater and manga, so we only do big trips like that every few years. And it's almost always been the British Isles - England 3 times (including our honeymoon) and Ireland once, plus Hawaii and a Caribbean cruise, in more than 22 years of marriage. And we haven't seen that much of the U.S. - Arizona a couple of years ago, and Maine and Florida once each. Otherwise, most of our vacations are sponging off my friend K and her family in Cape Cod, like we did back in August. There's tradeoffs in everything ... .

I'd like to do Denmark, Holland, and the Greek Islands, and maybe Japan and Australia. Who knows whether we ever will, though ... .

Edited at 2007-11-14 02:51 am (UTC)

bad_mushroom
Nov. 14th, 2007 03:02 am (UTC)
Heh, yeah, I've seen a good bit of this here continent. My family is the parents-went-to-college-in-Maine-in-1974-ROAD TRIP!-planes-are-too-expensive-let's-camp type, so we do a good bit of ground trekking. A couple years ago we did a loop around the midwest (Seattle to Yellowstone to the redwoods back to Seattle) and then we also toured the "south" (aka Maine to North Carolina with a detour in West Virginia) last year. Oh, and I saw Wisconsin this year! XD I was visiting the School Of My Dreams aka Lawrence University.
chomiji
Nov. 14th, 2007 10:26 pm (UTC)

Yeah, we have a problem with road trips ... the Mr. hates it when almost anyone drives but himself, so he's got to do all the driving. And then he gets tired. So we don't tend to do as much in-U.S. travel as we might! And though he claims to like camping OK ... we've never camped, unless you want to count SCA camping events like the Pennsic War (and it's been years since we even did that).

bad_mushroom
Nov. 15th, 2007 02:09 am (UTC)
Oh man, camping in Maine is awesome--we're talking some serious wilderness :)

And haha, my dad is like that too. Which is why it took so long for me to get enough hours to apply for my license--he never let me drive!
chomiji
Nov. 15th, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC)

I love being out under trees, in the woods ... but I like my comforts, too. Probably my ideal would be a small lodge well-placed for day-hikes, or cabins like the ones we spent time in during my childhood vacations in West Virginia.

I think the driving thing is a boy thing ... .

;-)

bad_mushroom
Nov. 16th, 2007 03:06 am (UTC)
Actually, I'm a really bad backseat driver, so often I would prefer to drive, unless it's my mum or dad driving because I feel most confident in their abilities. Unfortunately, I'm gonna have to suck it up because my car just went caput. Ah well.
chomiji
Nov. 17th, 2007 05:39 pm (UTC)

Ooh? So what's wrong with the car?

Mine keeps trying to die in fits and starts - I got it when I was pregnant, so it's pretty old, for a car! She's a 1992 Honda Accord 4-door, dark metal-flake red, and I call her Ruby Lee.

bad_mushroom
Nov. 18th, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
The frame is rusted through and the gas tank leaks...and I sent it to the repair shop because I thought there was a crack in the exhaust system. So now I have to clean it out today. It's a '94, so my parents have had it since I was four/five. So basically it all sucks massively :(

Also: yay for Japanese cars! Mine was a Subaru Legacy.
chomiji
Nov. 19th, 2007 08:34 pm (UTC)

Yeah, we're of two minds about getting rid of Ruby Lee, even if we get another can, because C. is almost old enough to drive. But you really can get around where she needs to go pretty well by public transportation here, and if she stays past dinner for stage crew, one of us can pick her up. And then there's the insurance costs ... at least she's a girl and has good grades.

Every one would slide down one car if we got a new one - my husband's commute is very long, so he would get something more gas-efficient; I would get his 5-yr-old Avalon (he had a reason for needing a bigger car back then); and I guess C. would learn to drive Ruby.

I don't like the Avalon! It's big and its steering wheel feels like it's set in a block of Jell-O. Hondas have crisper steering than Toyotas.

bad_mushroom
Nov. 19th, 2007 08:51 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I really needed a car to get back and forth between my parents' houses. But c'est la vie, they'll drive me until I figure something out (or not). The insurance costs were okay for me until I had my accident, and even then they weren't too bad because the car was so old.

Eh, let your daughter learn to drive on the old beater :P I loved mine and it was good for me. Plus, if she wrecks it it won't be such a big deal XD

Is an Avalon an SUV? If so, shame! (Of course, if there was a good reason...:D)
chomiji
Nov. 19th, 2007 08:54 pm (UTC)

OMG, no, not an SUV! Our neighbors would hardly speak to us if we had an SUV! (Remember, we are ultra-liberal crunchy granola people in Tacky Park!)

No, it's the biggest, cushiest sedan Toyota makes. The company he works for is a consultant for the Department of Defense, and he often had to drive various borderline-elderly muckety-mucks to meetings, so he needed something that had a quiet, comfy ride and cushy seats.

bad_mushroom
Nov. 19th, 2007 10:19 pm (UTC)
Ah, makes sense. I didn't think you'd have an SUV :)

You wouldn't believe the number of SUVs in Portland. I mean, I could understand people needing them up in the Ye Aulde Boonies bits of Maine where I'm originally from, but HALLO, THIS IS A CITY.
chomiji
Nov. 20th, 2007 04:02 pm (UTC)

Well, I've heard lots of "reasons" for people having them around here, and it's all a load of manure for most of them. Now, my brother-in-law the minister, who lives in the boonies in western Maryland (Garrett County), needs one - he needs to make house calls on parishoners during the snow season in the mountains. But not around here ... .

bad_mushroom
Nov. 20th, 2007 06:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah, most of the people in my old rural Maine town did need trucks because they were all farmers. But pretty much everyone else...not so much.
theloomofmoira
Nov. 14th, 2007 11:34 pm (UTC)
isn't it wonderful when such things go according to plan? much to be proud of :)
chomiji
Nov. 15th, 2007 11:56 pm (UTC)

Yes .. and with me, it's a big nostalgia kick, too. I was also on stage crew in high school!

We actually saw it in its most finished form, at closing night. Apaprently opening night did have a few glitches.

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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