Monday, July 25, 2016


Three Shakespeare plays over three nights, Thursday through Saturday.  One was free, one pay-what-you-want, and one was the opposite of free.  Each has something unique to offer to this summer's Shakespeare season (made a little extra juicy by this year's commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.)

Troilus and Cressida from the Public/NYSF at the Delacorte; As You Like It from The Cradle Theatre in Prospect Park; The Merchant of Venice, which is the contribution to the Lincoln Center Festival from Shakespeare's Globe.

As I've said before (and will say again), I'm an actor, not a critic; no desire to pick these shows apart.  Dan Sullivan (whom I've known for a while) takes a really good swing at the very tricky pitch that is Troilus.  The curveballs of love and politics, the high heat of war, the secret signals that hold together the batteries of diplomacy and military intelligence.  Homeric Greece and Troy find their way to an Orwellian present of perpetual war.

Rebecca Etzine (whose tumblr I've admired for a while, and whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the show on Friday) delivered an As You Like It that is even more distinctly of today.  A young company of young artists turned a wooded part of Prospect Park into the forest of Arden - a few extra twists of gender and sexuality, plenty of playfulness, and a healthy dose of irreverence result in a show that is compelling, contemporary, and - most importantly - alive.  They're moving camp to Ft. Greene this weekend; check their website.  Cory missed this one, sadly; hey, this heatwave is a real thing, and not everyone's appetite for Shakespeare is quite as bottomless as mine, especially given that on the docket for the next night was...

Last and emphatically not least, Jonathan Pryce was Shylock in what is of the most brutal, and certainly one of the best, productions of Merchant I've ever seen.  While the staging and design is firmly in 16th Century Venice, the anti-semitism conjures all-too-current outbreaks in Europe and America.  Never (in my experience) has Shylock seemed so justified, never has Jessica been so disdained (even after her 'voluntary' conversion and marriage to Lorenzo), never has Antonio been such an asshole, and NEVER has Portia been such a snotty, snobby, vindictive prig (while still managing to be the smartest person in the room).  The final, added scene of Shylock's forced baptism was bitterly piercing.

Not much visual stimulation for you today, but here are a couple shots of Shakespeare's birthplace from our trip.  [What?? A side trip to Stratford-upon-Avon when we went to London?  Hey, he'll only have a 400th Deathiversary once.]

A couple exteriors of the gables.

A shot of a little one checking out the signatures scratched into the birthroom window.

And - why not? - a couple shots from Anne Hathaway's cottage, including Rudy, Cory, and Mol checking out the epic garden.

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