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FMA: Ed among the ignorant
I was going to do a post on "the five worst plays I've ever seen," but then I realized that some of the most entertainingly bizarre live theatrical events I've witnessed from the audience (as opposed to having been involved in the production) were not bad, exactly, or not entirely so, but more misconceived, over-ambitious, better suited for a different audience than the one that was actually present, or just plain strange.

If you enjoy this post, I would be thrilled if, in your own journals or in the comments here, posted on your own five most peculiar theatrical experiences when you were in the audience.

5. Delbert's one-man show. I don't remember what the name of this was, but when I was in grad school for playwriting, the seven playwrights in my class attended the thesis production of the grad acting class, in which fifteen or twenty of them performed ten-minute one-person shows that they'd written themselves. After ten or so well-acted, competently-written performances on the theme of "My childhood sucked, but I forgive you, mommy/daddy," we had been lulled into a sense of security. And then came Delbert.

He was a scrawny platinum blonde who looked like a British punk rocker, who proceeded to give a performance of burning intensity on the theme of his complex and tormented relationship with masturbation. He delivered his lines in a deliberately stilted manner, with emphasis in unusual places, and he had a sound system set up so that sometimes a recording of his voice would echo his last few words.

Delbert: Sometimes I go to a porno shop to buy my porno mags. Sometimes I take my porno mags home. But sometimes I just can't wait. Then I sneak behind the shop, into an alley, and then I rip off the covers and masturbate. (Pause.) I wonder why I do that.

Delbert on tape: Do that, do that, why I do that.

Delbert: Sometimes I stick my finger up my ass when I masturbate. (Pause.) I wonder why I do that.

Delbert on tape: Do that, do that, finger up my ass, ass, ass.

I should mention at this point that I and the other six playwriting students were sitting in the front row of a very small black box theatre, approximately two feet from Delbert and his finger. I was sitting next to Lori, an extremly sweet evangelical Christian who did not, as she put it, "cuss." When the lights went to black, without consulting or even looking at each other, all seven of us, like a single organism, leaped up and fled the theatre.

4. The tongue play. This was also during grad school, and was a play written by a playwriting grad student who was not in my class. It was about a man who had no tongue.

It was deliberately unclear whether he had lost his tongue to tongue cancer or whether his daughter had bitten it off when he stuck it down her throat. It was also unclear whether he had actually molested her, or whether he was insane, or where the play was taking place, or whether Tongue Man was imagining the whole thing and did, in fact, have a tongue. Yeah, it was pretentious, but on a line-by-line basis, it was actually pretty well-written. The reason it goes on this list is that it was practically a one-man show, and it was performed in entirety as if the actor had no tongue.

Imagine two hours of "I' I 'o-eh-eh ou, I ah o 'ah-ee." You could mostly figure out that he was saying something like, "If I molested you, I am so sorry," but... Two hours. Of no tongue.

In what will become a recurring theme in these stories, the grad playwrights fled the scene without congratulating the playwright, and then convened in the women's bathroom to speak without tongues and laugh maniacally.

3. The head play. This was some very famous classic German play, and I cannot for the life of me recall which one. (ETA: Frank Wedekind's Spring Awakening.) A bunch of us, this time undergrads, drove out to see a mutual buddy star in this extremely long production as an emo young man who spends the whole play moping and contemplating suicide. I realize that this could also describe Hamlet, but at least Hamlet has sword fights.

For two hours and forty-five minutes, it was merely long and dull. Then the hero meets a ghost, a buddy of his who had blown off his head. The way this was portrayed was that the chest and shoulders were built up in a frame over his actual neck and head, and he carried his head under his arm. However, his voice clearly emanated from the middle of his chest.

This struck us all as hilarious, but since there were eleven of us in an auditorium that seated 300, and we all knew the star, we stifled our laughter until the ghost tossed the hero his head, exactly as if he was doing a basketball lay-up. Then the floodgates burst. We all burst into hysterical laughter, and continued laughing like hyenas for fifteen minutes, until the end of the play. Every time we started getting it under control, the ghost would speak from his chest, and we'd go off again. Once again, the moment the play was over, we eschewed our planned congratulations and instead fled in shame.

2. Lord of the Rings. Yes. The entire thing. In two hours, I believe, though my impression at the time was "six or more."

This was a strange vanity production put on at a local theatre by a friend of my parents, which was why we went to see it. We were under the impression, as well, that the woman who adapted (undoubtedly without permission), directed, composed music for, and played Galadriel, was doing it with and for children.

However, when the play began, it turned out that although indeed, all the actors but her were kids, it was actually a paen to the wonderfulness that was the actress/Galadriel. No doubt my memory is distorted, and the shapelessness of the production didn't help, but I recall it as two hours of mobs of children scampering about the stage, singing the praises of Galadriel while she blessed them in a lordly manner.

We fled without visiting her backstage as we had planned. My Dad remarked, as we hastened to our car, "I wonder what the parents of those kids thought when they found out that their little darlings spent two months learning hymns of praise to Julie."

1. The Goddess is Awake. Never ever go to a play that the same person wrote, directed, starred in, and composed the music for, is all I can say. Especially if he's named Elon Skyhawk.

Elon had proposed this to the Theatre Department, and as senior student I had been on the board that rejected it. When, undaunted, he produced it independently, the entire board showed up to see it.

We sat in an open-air auditorium. Suddenly a man in a gorilla suit appeared. He slowly walked through the audience to the stage, periodically roaring and checking his wrist watch. The he left. Elon Skyhawk emerged. His play, which bore a curious resemblance to LOTR, was entirely composed on Elon majestically declaiming environmentalist rhetoric while scantily clad undergrad girls worshipped at his feet. For two hours. In the end, the gorilla, who apparently represented capitalism and consumerism, reappeared. Elon banished him, and the scantily clad undergrads sang a hymn of praise.

It was a tough call for first place between this and number four, but I give it Elon for, in addition to all his other sins, temporarily making me want to cut down forests just to spite him.

Dishonorable mention to the play about a husband and wife doing role-playing, for featuring the immortal and oft-quoted line, "Put on the dog mask, you BITCH!"

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oursin
Mar. 14th, 2006 07:42 pm (UTC)
Never ever go to a play that the same person wrote, directed, starred in, and composed the music for

Viz: Konstantin's terrible play that he puts on in Act 1 of Chekhov's The Seagull. Of which the above reminds me not a little.
minnow1212
Mar. 14th, 2006 07:47 pm (UTC)
I am giggling so hard right now. Tonguelessness!

I don't think I've ever sat in a play that bad, honestly--which I guess is lucky. The only time I've had the must-sneak-out-now reaction was to overly pretentious student dance recitals.
thomasyan
Mar. 14th, 2006 08:04 pm (UTC)
Which were worse: The worst plays you've watched, or the worst movies?
rachelmanija
Mar. 15th, 2006 12:25 am (UTC)
The plays were more entertaining, for sure.
lnhammer
Mar. 14th, 2006 08:12 pm (UTC)
I'll mention just one bizarre theater experience. This was a The Merchant of Venice done by the theater arts department down at the U. Just after, IIRC, Shylock loses the trial, the dead of Auschwitz dressed in sackcloth and ashes marched slowly from the wings, off the stage, and up the auditorium aisles and out the back, all while the other actors stood frozen in place and low, moaning music played. For what must have been two minutes but felt like fifteen.

I call that production The Sledgehammer of Venice.

Honorable mention: the middle-school production of Into the Woods that stopped at the end of the first half.

---L.
canandagirl
Mar. 14th, 2006 08:31 pm (UTC)
I think you told me about #5. Right after I showed you one of the short stories about the organ thieves, I remember thinking, "Wow Rachel, a lot of weird things happen to you."

I can't think of five play moments that stand out. The worst opera I saw was "Werther" which was just stupid. It had the typical boy meets girl, girl marries someone else, boy kills himself and gives girl a guilt complex, type of story.

It's the third act, the actor knows that he's never going to see girl again, so he shoots (or stabs I can't remember which) himself in the chest. He slowly sinks to the floor, singing all the time. Then suddenly! A chorus could be heard from the window, and Werther, being the dumb ass he is, leaps up to the window. He thinks it's her and continues singing on and on and on.

Finally, he remembers he's dying, so he slumps around a bit, sings for another 15 minutes or so. Then the girl barges in, and Werther leaps up and sings about how much he loves her, blab, blab, blab for another 5 minutes, remembers he's suppose to be near death, and falls dead, all the while, trying to croak out the last few words.

I'm usually pretty forgiving about operas and plays, and don't usually notice a lot of stupid stuff, but this was just too silly.
marith
Mar. 14th, 2006 08:43 pm (UTC)
....I was going to say something about the vaguely remembered production of "Vlad Drakul in the Year 2000" we saw the first week I arrived in California. It featured women draped in gauze acrobatically climbing about a jungle gym in representations of cybersex (I think), with pink backlighting. Among other things.

But these descriptions (especially the Tongueless Opera and the Scarlet Letter) make Vlad seem like high art.

fiveandfour
Mar. 14th, 2006 09:00 pm (UTC)
Don't think I won't be adding Two hours. Of no tongue. to my list of odd phrases to throw into conversation.

Dishonorable mention to the play about a husband and wife doing role-playing, for featuring the immortal and oft-quoted line, "Put on the dog mask, you BITCH!"

Oh great, and now I have another phrase to work into conversation because that one's also way too good to pass up ;-).
febrile
Mar. 14th, 2006 09:04 pm (UTC)
Just popping in....
Hi there! I stumbled upon this entry through a convoluted series of events that's really quite boring, but wanted to say that I enjoyed reading this immensely, and that "The head play" sounds like Wedekind's Spring Awakening.
rachelmanija
Mar. 15th, 2006 12:26 am (UTC)
Re: Just popping in....
That's it!
heavenscalyx
Mar. 14th, 2006 09:52 pm (UTC)
*snorfles her tea*

The only thing in any way comparable in my experience was a long ago production of Macbeth during the entirety of which, the goddess Hecate stood in the back section of the stage and attempted to look interested. Oh, and at the end of Act... 2, I think, she did a graceful little balletic leap off stage left.

My friend and I, seated in the second row, disgraced ourselves giggling, and drew a nasty look from Lady Macbeth. My thought is, "Come ON, lady, you were performing for the assembled students of three different high schools, and you didn't expect someone to giggle?"
lady_noremon
Mar. 15th, 2006 11:19 pm (UTC)
"snorfles"

I love that word X3 (now atleast)

Ah you should have seen our preformance of Macbeth me and my bf did for our english class. Since there was only 2 of us we kept swiching roles, and it was hilarious because Matt (my bf) is 6'7 and I at that time was 5'2. so during some sceens I played Macbeth, and then during some sceens Matt played Macbeth. Now this had to be presented to the class, so we taped it, but we stayed in the same room. Oh and for one part we used puppets for the witches, and the party guests. And I as Lady Macbeth killed myself with a gamecube controller, and Matt killed me with a pie cutter......
gaudior
Mar. 14th, 2006 09:59 pm (UTC)
Wow. Those made my day much better, because when you're laughing too hard to breathe, you have no angsting-oxygen. Thank you. A lot.

Now, when I was an undergraduate theater major, we had a director who had Vision. You could tell by the twinkling of his beard. Unfortunately, his vision appeared to consist of exactly the same Very Very Avant Garde themes and symbolism in every single play. Thus, each play contained:
1) Suitcases
2) Lighting too dim to see by
3) Actors speaking veeeerrrrrryyyyy sllllloooowwwlllyyy and WITH! EM!phaSIS!
4) Fishnets
5) Some piece of set designed to confuse the audience (eg, a giant balloon crossing slowly over their heads, a room onstage filled with water (not good for the floorboards), two young women holding cabages over their groins and breasts and moaning, an upside-down dead tree, the Unabomber's underwear, etc)

His overall philosophy of theater was that a play should not be trying to communicate something to the audience, it should be an experience which the actors create together. This is all very well and good, except that a) no it isn't, and b) he looked so happy when people stalked out of his shows in outrage. He'd cackle about it delightedly at cast parties.

Now, taking classes with him also meant that he would send us to see plays. The one which comes to mind was performed in a church basement in the East Village in New York (note: we went to school in Pennsylvania. He did not offer to pay for our bus tickets). It was entitled "Bad Boy Nietzsche."

...

My favorite part was definitely the giant plywood penises, which undulated over the back of the set for the entire show. At especially tense moments, they would wave excitedly back and forth in time to the music.

That or the woman playing The Child hitting him with a sack and chanting "Bad boy Nietzsche! Bad, bad, BAAAD boy!"

My grandmother and I agreed that we had seen better plays.

rachelmanija
Mar. 15th, 2006 12:23 am (UTC)
That story of yours reminded me of a play-- well, a sit-down play-reading-- that would have definitely gone on the list if I had not traumatically blocked the memory of it until just now. I think I'll post it later separately so more people can shudder at the horror that was a re-telling of Oedipus Rex in which characters were named things like Big Pink Cunt. It was written, not by a student looking for cheap shocks, but by a professor looking for cheap shocks. Oh my God, I'm having a flashback now just thinking about it.
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_swallow
Mar. 14th, 2006 10:59 pm (UTC)
Ahaha.
tharain
Mar. 14th, 2006 11:03 pm (UTC)
Another Rule of Theater
Never accept a free ticket. There is a reason people aren't paying for it.

My appalling plays don't even come close to your experiences. But for what it's worth here's my list of Four Worst Experiences, and the names by which they became known.

4. Camelrot. This was a very, very bad bus and truck starring, I think, honest to god, Robert Goulet as Arthur, and playing in -- I'm not kidding -- a town OUTSIDE of Wilkes Barre PA. A friend had 8 free tickets, so we all packed into our caras and drove 50 miles into the coal regions. It was so appalling bad -- everything terrible that you can imagine a bus-n-truck to be -- that we left at intermission. We went to the local Denny's, and when our waitress finished her shift she joined us because we were so funny with our Trash The Show commentary that she had to sit down and hang with us. Yes. We MiSTed Camelot

3. (Embarrassing) Sex Tips for Modern Girls Much like you and your dad in that ill-fated movie, my parents and I went to see a friend of mine in Sex Tips For Modern Girls. She comped us in. This girl was the last woman my mother hoped I would marry. So, I showed up with my parents, who are lovely republican baptists. The show started, and we got to my friend's opening scene. Her first line, sitting at a bar, was "So I look across the bar and I see a guy sitting there. I think 'He's cute. Should I fuck him?'" And went downhill from there. My parents and I were cataleptic with shock and embarrassment the rest of the show. Afterward, my father's only comment was "Well, that was interesting." Mother was silent.

Continued in a bit...
tharain
Mar. 14th, 2006 11:05 pm (UTC)
2. Schlong of Boreway A friend of mine had been hired to music direct Milk and Honey for a local theater company, and they comped him to their current show, Song of Norway. His wife couldn't go, so he asked me along. Curtain went up on Act 1 at 8 pm. Curtain went down on ACt 1 at 10:35 pm. There was an intermission. Curtain went up on Act 2 at 10:50 pm (mind you, this is with a union orchestra). I don't remember when Act 2 finished; I was comatose. I do vaguely remember that all of the chorus numbers were staged in a large, swaying semicircle, and that one of the actresses looked as if she was channeling a really, really bad 1940's MGM movie star. Off screen. It might not have been the worst show I'd ever seen, but it was definitely the longest. We were in pain.

But not as much pain as when I saw:

1. Krapp's Last Crap, er, Tape. Two friends of mine and I were comped into opening night performance of two Beckett plays, Krapp's Last Tape and Some Woman Sits In A Pile Of Garbage And Talks For An Hour. I honestly don't remember the title of the second piece. We had all worked at this theater company, and the director was a mutual acquaintance of ours. This (Krapp) was the first play she had ever directed.

Yes. Her first foray into directing was Beckett. Not Arsenic and Old Lace. BECKETT.

Note for the uninformed: Krapp's Last Tape is an eleven page script.

This performance of it was an hour and fifteen minutes long.

Lights went up. After ten minutes of fooling around on stage and fussing with video tape machines (they'd updated from audio tape), I was bored, and the actor peeled and ate a banana. After another seven minutes of fooling around onstage and fussing with video tape machines, I was frustrated, and the actor peeled and ate another banana. There were sound effects. After another five minutes of fooling around onstage and fussing with video tape machines, I was angry, and, yes, the actor peeled and ate another banana.

At this point, I leaned over to Friend One and murmured, "If he goes for one more banana, I'm up on stage and strangling him."

About thirty odd minutes into the production, the actor said the first line of Beckett's script.

And then the agony started.

After forty five minutes I was in actual, physical pain, watching this. I'd never experienced the phenomenon before. It was also about this point that Friend One and I started digging our fingers into each other's arms and legs to distract us from the mental pain that was manifesting itself in our bodies.

All this while, Friend Two, to my right, was sitting, watching the stage, and smiling. She would occasionally turn to me and Friend One, smile and nod, then go back to watching. At the 45 minute mark, both Friend One and I looked at her, and she looked back. She smiled nodded, turned her left arm over and mimed taking a knife and plunging it into that arm and sawing up the length of it. She then repeated the action with the other arm. She then smiled, nodded, and looked back at the stage.

The act finally ended. I was literally shaking with fury at how bad it was. The only consolation, I thought, was that the second play HAD to be better.

In this...I was mistaken.
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angevin2
Mar. 15th, 2006 12:34 am (UTC)
I was linked here by karabair and am deeply amused. Thanks for this!

The Tongue Man play reminds me of an article I read about a musical version of Titus Andronicus which includes an aria for Lavinia, post-mutilation.

The worst play I ever saw, I think, at least in terms of actively and amusingly awful and not just deadly dull, was a Richard III imported from New York for the benefit of we poor culturally-deprived folk in the red states as part of an NEA project. Though it's not a patch on any of the ones you posted. It was a silly and ill-conceived thing in which Richard was played by a nebbishy sort of person whose delivery was reminiscent of Woody Allen and Queen Margaret was a young actress who twitched constantly and shrieked like a banshee in an effort to simulate age (early on in her first scene my friend Beth leaned over to me and whispered "Two things you must know about the Wise Woman" and I nearly burst out laughing). The costumes consisted of black shirts and pants with elaborate hats and pieces of clothing that only went down to the shoulders, and the final battle scene sadly went for realism despite the fact that there were about ten actors on a very large stage. When Richard said "I think there be six Richmonds in the field" it was very confusing, as there did not appear to be six people in the field. I posted about it at some length here...
rachelmanija
Mar. 15th, 2006 12:45 am (UTC)
Also, when Clarence was stabbed, the footlights came up really brightly, making it appear that he had a light switch in his navel.

That was excellent.
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sartorias
Mar. 15th, 2006 12:53 am (UTC)
Obviously you warped back to the seventies.

One of our assignments in our Contemporary Drama class during college was to dutifully attend the offerings of the seniors in the playwriting major. Looking back, it is clear they desperately needed warm bodies, as the playwrights did not have enough relatives to fill the tiny audience (before a theatre, yes, all in black.)

I remember nodding off after the first few one-acts, during every one of which the characters all wore black, all went about with stiff, blank faces (isolation, get it? Get it?) talking in loud stagey voices, with dreary dialogue, sometimes nonsensical (Waiting for Godot ought to be kept under lock and key until the audience has reached age forty, or doesn't write, whichever comes first) and sometimes in strings of fervid pent-house browed seriousness. Most of them ended with suicides. (Good Night, Mother...see above about Waiting for Godot).

However, the karmic overlaod of the jaw-droppingly god-awful theatre experience of the seventies was paid off in one swoop when I got to see Firesign Theatre do a performance. I laughed so hard my nose hurt. I'd actually forgotten that theater could be, you know, funny.

But not in college, of course.
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spuffyduds
Mar. 15th, 2006 03:24 am (UTC)
Re: Wound up here from some convoluted path or other
Ooh! Icon spotted from Neil Gaiman's "Midsummer Night's Dream! Coool!
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spuffyduds
Mar. 15th, 2006 03:24 am (UTC)
You had me giggling so hard it turned into indescribable snorkling sounds. Thank you.
weirdquark
Mar. 15th, 2006 03:57 am (UTC)
gaudior has already mentioned the plays in our theater department at college, so I'll content myself with mentioning a play my parents saw.

It was by Ibsen, and I don't remember which one it was, (I don't think they do either) but in it, the actors crawled very slowly up a ramp under red lighting.
oracne
Mar. 15th, 2006 01:39 pm (UTC)
ROFLMAO!!!!!

I cannot top these. I just can't.
pensnest
Mar. 15th, 2006 08:54 pm (UTC)
cathexys linked to this post, and what fun I have had reading it.

I can give honourable mention to a schoolboy production of 'Macbeth' in which the leading actor had lost his voice (his words were intoned by one of the teachers, lurking in front of the stage) and compensated for this deficiency by acting with his pelvis. After a few scenes, his pelvis would arrive on stage well before the rest of him. Most strange. Also, small creatures escaped from the branches of Birnham Wood into the (mostly schoolgirl) audience, causing great dismay.

Honourable mention also to a production at the Royal Court Theatre (those in the know will realise this is code for 'new and strange'), a mostly interesting and far from bad play which unfortunately chose to end the first act with the leading character losing her virginity. The bloodied sheet was, necessarily displayed. Methinks it would have carpeted a motorway, and contained sufficient 'blood' for several thousand virgins. It went way beyond 'tasteless' and into 'utterly ludicrous' and I giggled all the way to the loo, and there giggled a whole lot more.

But the prize goes to the (professional) production of Goethe's 'Faust', mercifully in translation, which I saw with my best friend some time in the '80s. We decided to see parts One and Two on the same day, on the assumption it would be a Theatrical Event.

Well. It was certainly buttock-numbing, and I also saw a great deal more of Simon Callow (trans: *all* of Simon Callow) than I was entirely expecting, as he emerged stark naked from the cauldron and belted round the stage like an invigorated bull. But this was reasonable, really... What got me was the scene in Part Two where Faust, in full Gothic plate armour, had gone off with Helen of Troy, presumably to find a tin-opener and get down to business. Leaving behind a bunch of Greek sluts in tennis nets (I swear, that's what they were wearing), a couple of chaps in table-cloth-drapery, and the hapless Mephistopheles, whose undoubted appeal could not persuade me to concentrate on his interminably tedious Germanic speech about... um, whatever it was about. I tried, really, but... it wasn't easy. Particularly when the two chaps in tablecloths came from upstage to the very front and centre of the stage, and removed their tablecloths, and then *got into a tank of water* which had hitherto been so untroubled that I thought it was part of the stage, and began cavorting like joyful walruses.

At which point, I completely lost the thread. (Sometimes, you wonder why more directors are not murdered.)

Mephisto, bless him, finished his speech, and fled, and the remaining onstage personnel began to *chant*, and to wash themselves lasciviously in the fountains which sprang up all over the stage. There was water *everywhere*, including my eyes, from the effort of not roaring with laughter. I'd have been the only one, in an audience inexplicably rapt... It was deeply ridiculous.

Mercifully, I can remember nothing of acts three, four and five.
wpadmirer
Mar. 15th, 2006 09:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, I enjoyed your list. I'm a playwright, and having endured many years of watching actor friends in bad showcases (including one in which the only other member of the audience was reading a book by flashlight), and having read endless really terrible plays for a competition that's done here at a local theater for new comedies - I can really, really, really relate to this list.

WP
madam_silvertip
Mar. 16th, 2006 05:32 am (UTC)
I saw a really arty, boring, talky stage version of Frankenstein in my teens, at college. I also saw a really bad and disturbing production of Harvey, and a strangely bad production of Kotzwinkle's "Herr Nightingale and the Satin Woman"--or maybe just the play is bad. It's the kind of thing I don't really like (the endlessly spun-out film noir parody that pats itself on the back for being a parody all the time). I saw an incredibly bad production of The Mikado, too. The worst ever may have been a production of Stop the World, I Want to Get Off, which was actually competently done but is a lousy play IMO.
madam_silvertip
Mar. 16th, 2006 05:50 pm (UTC)
This production of the Mikado, by the way, had Katisha played by a MAN--and she drove a Kawasaki on and off the stage. I am not kidding.
madam_silvertip
Mar. 16th, 2006 05:37 am (UTC)
I also think--although I wouldn't call it a BAD play, if one which is so far from my worldview as to look pretty out to lunch--"Equus" would have tremendous laugh potential if it weren't done REALLY well. And I am not sure some lines can be spoken with a straight face today, when the homoerotic/bestiality subtext is no longer quite so much news.
rachelmanija
Mar. 17th, 2006 12:20 am (UTC)
I was once involved in an excellent production of that. It's dated in some ways, and I totally disagree with its thesis, but it's still got the potential to be very powerful. If, as you say, it's done REALLY well.
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londonkds
Mar. 16th, 2006 10:55 am (UTC)
My jaw drops at some of the productions described. The only events I can add, both in professional London theatres:

The Tempest in which a Very Famous English Actress played Prospero in a production that was not otherwise single-sex or sex-reversed. This was not actually the problem. The problem was that her performance was largely of flat affect and delivered in a peculiar drawling accent that visited every rural part of the UK at some point in the play. An acquaintance of mine on the theatre staff was asked by an audience member "Is there some reason why [***] is playing Prospero as an ignorant old Mummerset farmer?"

Macbeth with a number of very good actors hampered by really peculiar directorial choices. The centre of the stage was occupied by a ring of gas burners presumably intended to bring out an atmosphere of danger but which seemed to cause genuine apprehension in the actors. It was also a rather gratuitous idea to have the (very young) actress playing Lady Macbeth perform the sleepwalking scene in a tiny and diaphanous nightgown and simulate deranged masturbation at one point.
mistressrenet
Mar. 16th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC)
We watched a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream that was, in retrospect, somewhat ill-advised. The production was done in Shakespeare's English, and set in the nineteen-fifties. With bebop. This would not have been so bad if the producers had had difficulty picking an actual time to set the musical in (there were elements belonging solidly to the sixties as well), or had used the staging to make some greater and visible point beyond 'bebop is cool, yo.' IIRC, the fairies were hippie beatnik types but it still wasn't particularly clear if there was a point to it.

BUT! The shining theatrical experience I will always point to was the senior project of a girl I knew middling well who shared a philosophy class with me. The class was taught by a professor most of the students had a crush on-- whether an intellectual one or a full-out, 360-degree one. He was very attractive, very smart, kind, funny and did I mention very attractive? Broad-shouldered with chestnut hair and lovely blue, blue eyes. Wore lumberjack shirts and used a wheelchair. I joked once about how we all had crushes on him, and she was all "NO, no! I can't have a crush, I'm married." Oh, denial. How I love thee.

So! She asked all of us in the class to come, it was free, I was bored. The play was something of a one-woman show about a girl struggling to find her purpose in life. A little hackneyed, a little over the top, but then!

A spotlight turns up at the top of the stage, and down walks The Sage, a tall man with chestnut hair wearing a lumberjack shirt. And-- here's the thing that made me laugh-- he's blind. Our heroine and the Sage then proceed to have a meaningful conversation about...oh, I don't know. The meaning of life or something. I was too busy laughing to myself by then.
tharain
Mar. 16th, 2006 09:00 pm (UTC)
Our heroine and the Sage then proceed to have a meaningful conversation about...oh, I don't know.

Please, oh please, tell me that the heroine's name was Mary Sue. Please.
(no subject) - mistressrenet - Mar. 19th, 2006 03:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
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