Monday, April 16, 2007

April madness

Bad time of the school year! I am now officially overwhelmed with obligations, my brain is like swiss cheese!

On the bright side, a Dickens theme park. (Thanks to Nico for the link.) Can you imagine what they will have to serve at the cafes in the spirit of authenticity? It would be funny if they had, oh, I don't know, gin and hot water, and various grotesque Victorian meat products. But I expect they will hedge by having burgers and chips also...

On a related note: on Saturday I saw Neil Bartlett's Oliver Twist (it was a Theatre for a New Audience production, at the John Jay theater--very nice little theater, disconcerting though as that's where I go for the deep-water running classes usually). I was on a panel discussion afterwards, quite enjoyable but work-time-eating-up (and heated discussion of Dickensian anti-Semitism!); the show's over now, which is a pity, I would definitely recommend it. Highly enjoyable, perhaps partly against the director's intentions: it's a Brechtian little production, Nancy's straight out of Threepenny Opera, but the distancing/estrangement stuff can't entirely contain the force of Dickens's empathetic imagination. Rather in the style of that Shock-Headed Peter a few years ago: stylized neo-Victorianism, some very good acting. Must reread that novel, there was not enough Bumble for my taste...

(I think I never posted about a risibly and over-the-toply dire show I saw a few weeks ago--it was made, I think, with the best intentions, though the massive marketing surge that accompanies these big Broadway shows is off-putting--the lobby stores were conspicuously un-thronged the night I saw it--The Pirate Queen. Best features: more or less suitable for teenage girls fond of the novels of Tamora Pierce (you know, girl dresses as boy, etc. etc.--but really you'd be better off just reading one of those novels!); fairly charming scenes-at-the-court-of-Elizabeth-I sort of under the signs of Gilbert & Sullivan & Monty Python (with really lovely sets and costumes); decent Irish dancing, though it's a kitschy context. Worst features: awful Broadway belting-out (the love ballads are intolerable, in general the volume's just overwhelming and awful); unfortunate chronicle-style narration (you know, where the pirate queen's getting married to the useless wastrel son of the rival chieftain in one scene and then, like, a minute later she's totally giving birth and then there's an invasion and she staggers up off the pallet with blood all over her childbirth outfit and picks up a sword and fights off the attackers!). Sociologically interesting: it's been a while since I went to one of those big Broadway shows, I forgot how it's a sort of family night out & all the young girls wear their party dresses, I feel that when you see Manhattan tween-teen girls out there are more likely to be wearing jeans and little tops rather than these old-school Bloomingdale's-type dresses and tights and shoes...)

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