Theatre

Ghosts-by-Ibsen-at-the-Al-011

From Ibsen’s ‘Ghosts’ to ‘It Follows': Tracing the Evolution of STD as Metaphor

By

When Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts — whose main characters include adulterers, syphilitics, and, worst of all, cowardly priests — first premiered in 1882, it elicited an uncannily perfect critical response. The play, which is a virulent attack on the hypocritical moralities of the devout Victorian Norwegian bourgeoisie, had detractors competing to embody that which it critiqued: the surprisingly uncritical rush to stifle public (and blasphemous forms of private) sexuality. These responses to the play were so condemnatory that you’d think Ibsen had catapulted used, syphilis-smeared condoms into the audience.
… Read More

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 10.17.17 AM

‘Cymbeline,’ Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Romeo + Juliet,’ and Why Shakespeare Is So Hard to Adapt for the Screen

By

When a director does Shakespeare today, it seems there are three options most commonly selected, each of which has its drawbacks. The first is to do a loyal interpretation, maintaining the original setting and time specified by the Bard (for if you’re the type that chooses loyalty, you also may use this insufferable term), but risking the adaptation seeming like an ostentatiously astute encapsulation of a period and lifestyle that’s now irrelevant. The second is to set it in the present day,  underscoring the barbarism, archaism, and/or hilarity of a current societal norm by aligning it with Elizabethan text, but also risking bifurcating the text and its original meaning. The third is to set it somewhere and sometime else completely, avoiding the distraction of current day trappings (Lady Macbeth discovers Seinfeld emojis!), not to mention the equally distracting trappings of Elizabethan imitation (vocal fry is especially noticeable when it’s coming from a ruff-encased throat).
… Read More

fish

‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Meets Moliére in Larry David’s ‘Fish in the Dark’

By

After the success of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, there are plenty of people who would probably pay good money to eat dinner with Larry David for the sole purpose of having him insult and nitpick their table manners (“You eat your peas with a fork?”) while arguing with the waitstaff about his dish’s preparation and the appropriate tip. During the matinee preview of his Broadway play A Fish in the Dark, that I attended, David got close to the biggest applause of the afternoon for flubbing a line and ad-libbing, “I messed that up.” Later, when he finally recited his signature line — “prettay, prettay good” — the Cort Theatre went nuts. In other words, the bar for his fans’ appreciation is prettay, prettay low.
… Read More