Saturday, May 14, 2011

In Which I Lazily Discuss Two Shows

I am tired. I am very very tired and I don't know why. Maybe it's because of the weather- it's grey and rainy. Or because I spent about four straight hours last night standing, three of those craning my neck up to see what I'll be talking about later. Maybe it's because yesterday was a day of grieving, as it has been for the past few years for my friends and I. Or because I've been going to the gym every day and living on much fewer calories than I usually do. Perhaps because I've been studying for about five or six hours every day and I'm sick of it. Or it could be a combination of all of those things.
In any case, it's annoying. I am not motivated to do anything. I waffled a long time about if I even wanted to do this. But things need to get done today, and so here I am, trying to kick start myself even though the day is almost half over.

I saw two shows in the past two days, and it was awesome. Thursday night, Adrienne and I went to go see Les Miserables at the Queen's Theatre. When I booked my tickets, my mom said, "But you've seen Les Mis a million times!" It certainly feels like I have, but the fact is that I've only seen one high school production of it; the feel of seeing it a million times comes from when I was in it, rehearsing many times a week for almost four months. And even though I know the show very well, I've never seen or been in a full-length version (there is a student version of the show.) And so I was excited.

We arrived at the theatre with plenty of time to spare and got our souvenir programs as well as our regular programs. We were displeased to discover that we were sitting amidst three rows of pre-teen and teenage boys. These boys all had extreme difficulty in reading their tickets. They stood at the end of our row (we were on the aisle) for a long time, trying to decipher what their tickets said. Finally, they realised that they were sitting on the other side of us and we let them through. But then it seemed they had still misread their tickets- half of them were in the wrong seat. They all got up and musical-chaired around. A older couple arrived and remarked that the two boys sitting next to me were in their seats. More shuffling around. Then came the sudden need for them all to go the bathroom/get snacks or drinks/stretch their legs... and they did it one by one, every twenty seconds or so, meaning that finally, Adrienne and I stopped standing up to let them through and just moved our knees aside. We were fully prepared to smack them with our programs if they talked during the show (to their credit, they didn't.)

The show was incredible. Three main roles, including Eponine and Cosette, were being played by understudies, but you never would have known. Javert was amazing (and the only American in the cast.) Our Cosette was extremely young (because there are multiple understudies and we were kind of far away, we don't know who played her, but they way she acted and moved was in a way that I think can only be done by an actual teenage girl.) Eponine gave me hope for my future because she was quite short in addition to being fantastic. I wanted to adopt Gavroche. The Thenardiers were disgusting and hysterical. All in all, the cast was great (and, even besides Cosette, it was quite a young one.)

With the perfect voices, the great acting, and the awesome sets, there was only one thing I didn't like, and that was the blocking (or, for those of you who don't speak theatre, how the director has the actors moving around the stage.) Especially for the first act, it was really awkward and you could tell that the actors were uncomfortable with it. Perhaps something had gone wrong and they had just restaged it that afternoon, but it looked weird. The worst instance of awkward blocking was when Javert jumped off the bridge. When he hit the "water", the director had him roll all over the stage. This looked so dumb that I actually rolled my eyes. However, if there's only one thing wrong with a show, that's hardly anything to complain about. Overall, it was fantastic!

(Oh, and I was surprised to find out that the edits they make to shorten the student version are not to clean it up- most of the vulgarity is in the student edition. It's mostly the extra narration that they take out.)

Last night, I went to see Hamlet at the Globe (or, as they make sure to say here, Shakespeare's Globe.) Hamlet is my favorite Shakespeare play, and like Les Mis, I'd only seen a shorter version before (not including movies.)

Since I didn't to be late, I left much earlier than I needed to, but my obnoxious earliness worked to my benefit this time- if groundlings (which is what I was) get there early enough, they can get right up against the stage rather than trying to see over the other people. Because I was so early, I got a spot right at the front of the stage.

The show was really great, and very different than I think a lot of productions of Hamlet in that it was very darkly funny. The jokes are in there, of course, but this company underlined them and did it well. They also incorporated music- all of the actors (besides Hamlet, who was a little busy contemplating life and such) could play instruments, be it a drum, guitar, violin, recorder, or tambourine. It was really cool, since they used it to accompany the songs they opened and closed the show with as well as using them to add to the atmosphere of scenes like those involving the king's ghost.

They also cast all of the actors (again, besides Hamlet) in multiple roles- Polonius was one of the players as well as the preacher and the first gravedigger. The king also played the ghost (which was a cool idea, since they're brothers), and a player. Since the show is a traveling show, they were very creative with how they cast everyone. Even with Hamlet, they went against the norm- he was really short for a guy, maybe 5'4" at the tallest (I think he was shorter, but it was kind of hard to tell from where I was standing.) Everyone was taller than him, including Ophelia, and they didn't shy away from pointing this out. I'm glad they didn't decide not to cast him because of his lack of height because he was really great. In fact, the whole cast was and I would have given them a standing ovation if I hadn't been standing the whole time.

(One thing that definitely detracted from the show was the fact that the people around me would not stop talking. I know your ticket was only five pounds, but did you come here to see a show or have a conversation?)

And now I must go try to get some things done. The thought of studying more is saddening :(


Anonymous said...

The studying means the success of completing the work already required.

and that is something to be proud of.... just think what it would be like to try and do it "over a weekend" ;0)

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