Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Miscellaneous Theatre and Dance Reviews of 2017

I just realized, looking through my very small selection of local theatre and dance production reviews, that I missed quite a few that I’ve been to in the past couple of years. In fact, I didn’t write up any of the performances that I saw in 2017. The only reason that I write the reviews here, incidentally, is because I usually spend quite a lot to attend them, but if I don’t write my thoughts on them, I barely remember going. Here are a few capsule reviews for local dance, music, and theatre productions that I didn’t review in 2017, but meant to. They are presented in reverse chronological order.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze at the Van Wezel, December 2017

The performance of Cirque Dreams Holidaze that we attended in December 2017 was a holiday present from us to us for my partner and myself. It was their 10th anniversary tour, and they made their way around Florida during December, stopping here the week before Christmas. They were not in town long, and we were very excited to go to the performance, since my partner and I are both Cirque du Soleil fans. The tickets, which all Cirque fans will know, were extremely expensive, so I got us seats in the nosebleed section. I’ve never been to the Van Wezel before, but it was massive, and the seats went up to the ceiling in the back (not exaggerating). The audience we were with (like the Momix audience below) was horrid. Committing such audience crimes as taking flash photos, recording long videos, leaving in the middle of acts, and coming in late.

We missed the first scene because the people in our row, and the row in front of us, were late, but they were allowed them in anyway (about ten people in total). The show itself was amazing, and I would absolutely see it again. It wasn’t the typical holiday show at all, with very few religious overtones, which I really appreciated. Some of the performances left me wondering how a human being was able to perform them at all, which is a really cool feeling.

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Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure

J'accuse!

J’accuse!

Measure for Measure is one of those fascinating plays in the Shakespearean cannon that almost defies staging and is rarely filmed. Classified as a “problem play” (or “comedy” if you’re kind of messed up) it involves religion to an almost absurd level. The title is, as I’ve been told, a reference to the Sermon on the Mount, which I know nothing about, as I was raised Taoist. However, Shakespeare wouldn’t be crammed down the throats of high school and college kids alike if he didn’t have universal applications so it still bears analysis regardless of all the allusions that I don’t get. Sorry not sorry, dominant culture.

The play revolves around the hottest nun in town, Isabella, and everyone attempting to sleep with her. Pervs. Ooh, Measure for Measure: Pervs of Vienna would draw a good crowd for those of you producing it for the stage. The Duke of Vienna (Vincentio) has just realized that he been more carrot than stick and decides to “leave town” and make Angelo the temporary Duke. Angelo has a reputation for being super uptight and the Duke feels like Angelo will 1) do all his dirty work while 2) making the Duke look super nice in comparison. A flawless plan. Angelo, like all uptight people, doesn’t want anyone to have sex before marriage, so he shuts down all the brothels and arrests Claudio, a gentleman’s son, for getting his fiancee pregnant. Her name’s Juliet(ta), obviously, and I want to do a reading of this as an alternate timeline where she never meets Romeo but my professor would really hate that … due to it’s inaccuracy. Anyway, Claudio asks his whore-loving friend Lucio to get his sister Isabella right before she enters the convent, and make her use her rhetorical prowess to get him of jail. It works if you consider Angelo deciding to kill Claudio sooner and rape Isabella to be “success”. It’s not. She fails. Get thee (back) to a nunnery!

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Shakespeare’s Henry VIII

This guy

This guy.

Last night I simultaneously watched and read Shakespeare’s Henry VIII and I have to admit, it wasn’t that bad. At the moment I’m in my final stages of being (yet again) in graduate school for a MA in Literature and I just so happened to sign up for an incredibly grueling class, otherwise I would never read/watch a play (I would just read it). The BBC version that I watched was excessively long, but that’s because it cut out maybe 40 lines of dialog total, abating my guilt further. In Shakespeare’s canon I take the Histories with a grain of salt because they are regarded as boring by so many (even the ones with Falstaff, who is great). I vastly prefer his comedies, but that’s me.

Henry VIII‘s claim to fame is that the modest cannon fanfare that accompanies it burned down the Globe. That fact is interesting and completely useless for my class, I just wanted to mention it here, because if I mention it in class my professor will be like “So what?” and then mentally note that I deserve a B in the class. I presume.

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My Favorite Shakespearean Sonnet

Despite me being mid-way through (I wish) my final paper I wanted to stop in and remind you that my favorite of Shakespeare’s sonnets is XXXIX, as follows …

O! how thy worth with manners may I sing,
When thou art all the better part of me?
What can mine own praise to mine own self bring?
And what is’t but mine own when I praise thee?
Even for this, let us divided live,
And our dear love lose name of single one,
That by this separation I may give
That due to thee which thou deserv’st alone.
O absence! what a torment wouldst thou prove,
Were it not thy sour leisure gave sweet leave,
To entertain the time with thoughts of love,
Which time and thoughts so sweetly doth deceive,
And that thou teachest how to make one twain,
By praising him here who doth hence remain.

I meant to blog this yesterday on Shakespeare’s possibly birthday, Happy Birthday, Bill!