Now for Throne of Blood and Pride and Prejudice: there's a range! I said a bit about both in my earlier post about composer Todd Barton.
Throne of Blood: this is based on the classic Kirosawa film that was based on Macbeth... and I must say I liked it much better than I've ever liked the original play, or the film. Macbeth has never been one I liked much (I confess I skipped the Macbeth plays that were mounted last year at OSF) nor am I a fan of Japanese film, really, and despite some film studies in college and several years of going to the AFI theatre in DC, I somehow managed to avoid seeing anything else by Kurasawa. That's how uncultured I am when it comes to Japanese film. In the end I went to see this play simply because everything else I'd seen this year was so good, and I kept hearing such good things about this one, that I felt I owed it to myself. I'm very glad I did.
|Kevin Kenerly as the tortured Macbeth-Washizu|
Pride and Prejudice: Another adaptation, beautifully done. It was chosen from a huge variety of available adaptations of the classic novel, but apparently this one is unique in not trying to tell the story from Elizabeth's point of view. It becomes an ensemble piece and all the characters shine. And that polished hardwood floor! And the chandelier! And the music and dancing! All around, a clever, witty, absolutely charming entertainer that any Jane Austen fan would have to like - and that anyone not familiar with Austen could also enjoy.
Seattle Times (highlighted below):
Shakespeare, meet Mozart. The two titans make beautiful music together in an inventive mounting of the romp by Darko Tresnjak, ex-head of San Diego's Old Globe Theatre.Tresnjak finds fertile parallels between the sexual politics and master-servant dynamics of Illyria, the isle where "Twelfth Night" takes place, and the realms where Mozart operas unfold.
With a marvelous topiary set by Seattle area native David Zinn, Linda Cho's decorous costumes, and live musicians echoing refrains from Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" and "The Magic Flute," this novel rendition of the familiar romp sparks and sparkles aplenty in its late 18th century setting.
The approach requires (and gets) spirited but nuanced acting from arresting Christopher Liam Moore, as a dark-tempered Malvolio, Michael Elich as the commedia-style jester Feste and others. But some, like Miriam A. Laube, who mugs it up as the lusty aristo Olivia, need reining in.Oh, I don't know about that last comment, really. For me, Miriam Laube can do anything she wants and I'll love to watch her! If she wants to chew scenery she does it beautifully. Another treat was that one of the "live musicians" - strolling players onstage much of the time - was our own Ashland favorite, young violinist Aaron Moffatt, who was completely at home onstage in costume. Ashland might have world class theatre, but it's still a small town where you can watch talented children grow into extraordinary adults. May they save the world.
|Green Show stage, outdoors on the bricks, is a community tradition|
Thinking of coming to Ashland next year? If you come to OSF, be sure to attend as many Noon events as you can - and also the Prefaces. These extra talks on the productions are always well worth hearing, even when you think you already know the play well. Part of the fun is seeing what OSF wants playgoers to take from the play and this production of it, and part of the fun is the audience at these events. And of course you must do the backstage tour, too. That will really make you appreciate what's going on here... And as many Green Shows as you can fit into your schedule. If you time it right, and if next year's OSF follows the same schedule, on some days you can start with a noon event, go on to a matinee, then hear a post-matinee discussion (Q&A between a passionate subset of the audience and a cast member, director or writer), then a preface, then a green show, and finally an evening play all in one day. Some of those events will be free, and others in the $5-7 range. The only really pricey tickets are the plays themselves, and those are bargains compared wtih big-city theatre.
So there it was. An incredible year, and now it's over. And an entirely new one coming up soon - in early 2011. All these plays running throughout the season in constantly rotating repertory. How do they do it? It's an amazing phenomenon.