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Much Ado About Nothing was fun and camp, and rocked a sweet-hearted 80s nostalgia that's hard to find fault with. (It was like a John Hughes movie.) They main reason to have the show set in the 1980s seemed to be it meant they could set the show's songs to 80s-style tunes. And have the guys in white naval uniforms. (mmmm, yes please.)

I was worried that the star draw of the two leads would result in, well, not being able to afford the talent to support the star pair. They did get a Claudio for whom this show is his professional debut, but luckily he was really good. Everything was light and fun, and after seeing Macbeth and Merchant of Venice at the RSC in the last five weeks (quick, where's a production of Measure for Measure? I need all my Shakespeare M plays...) it was really nice to see a Shakespeare production that went the crowd-pleasing West End route rather than the challenging quality theatre route.

You know what else is really good? Seeing David Tennant act. Act emotions other than pain, that is. Doing things with his face other than grimacing. Being silly, playing camp (SO VERY CAMP). Having fun. I'm still not going to go back and finish off watching his Doctor, but I'm happy to see him remind me why he got the job in the first place. Plus, he did the role in a Scottish accent, which was nice.

Alone, Catherine Tate would still be amazing. She's got a great physical sense, can spit out 400-year-old dialogue like it was written for her, and (was there any doubt?) can be funny just by inhaling. There was one great bit with wire work – she's fearless. ♥

They couldn't have picked a better play to showcase the two, because they have very few scenes together, and get to have their independent star moments. The overhearing scenes were hilarious, totally broad slapstick, but I'm okay with that. (Crowd-pleasing West End: I am crowd, I am pleased.) But when they're together, ah, they have such great chemistry.

The sets were really simple (gotta love a rotating stage!), there were dance numbers, and when shit got real (Prince John, boo hiss) it got real and felt genuine.

I want to see it again. From closer than the absolute back row of the house. :D

ETA: in the sober light of day, and having slept on it, I still think that it was a totally fun production. Broad, yes. Camp, yes. Not so much with the subtlety, yes. But then it was also sweet, charming, good-looking and everyone looked like they were having a good time.
charloween: (watch all the vids!)
I had a plan today to do a proper post about all the theatre I saw this week, just like I planned today to figure out what to put in my presentation for when I defend my thesis*, and also like I'd planned to go back to the ACD archive and find more awesome stuff about post-war Holmes fans... but instead I've been sitting under a tree in Queen's Park, shivering a bit in the cold**, enjoying being outside on a day that isn't humid, stealing wifi and noodling on the internet.

I like parks. I like parks in rage of steal-able wifi even more.

*Playing the vids, mumbling something about Van Gogh, and finishing off with jazz hands is sadly not an option.
**IDK, there's almost windchill today. One thing you can count on in Toronto, it's wind.


So, while I'm here and while I'm typing: Stratford! I saw: Kiss Me Kate again this past Sunday (with [livejournal.com profile] firstgold!), The Tempest and As You Like It on Wednesday (with Mum and my brother) and we hung around Wednesday night so we three could catch Peter Pan yesterday afternoon. Words words words about words. And plays. Plays full of words. )
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A few days ago I made my brother watch the BSG miniseries. Here's hoping he was into it enough to watch the rest of the show. Compared to the rest of the series, the start is almost... fluffy )



Today I went to a philanthropist's garden party in the country And it was strange, and kind of fun )



Tonight dinner was a tub of spicy hummus, delivered into my mouth via baby carrots and delicious pumpernickel-sesame-poppy seed-garlic flatbread. Also there were Tim Tams. <3 Loblaws.

Tomorrow is double-culture day with [livejournal.com profile] firstgold: Kiss Me Kate in Stratford in the afternoon, and then Scott Pilgrim vs. The World in the evening. <3 adaptations.
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Back to Stratford this weekend for a surprise cheap-ticket weekend. Saw Julius Caesar again (it makes even less sense than the first time) and Midsummer Night's Dream (F*CKING AWESOME). Dream has just started previews (it opens officially on the 21st), but it's 100% worth seeing and I need an excuse (any excuse) to go back. It's a really energetic production and everyone on stage was having fun with it (which is kind of usual for Stratford, but it's still so nice to see).

It was cool on its own, but it was even more neat to see Caesar and Dream back to back because of the casting crossover: Tom Rooney was good as Cassius and omg oh so good as a Brian Molko-ish Puck (...it worked), and Geraint Wyn Davies was a fine Caesar and a fabulous Bottom (with a Welsh accent!). Oh, rep theatre.

I do hope they-at-Stratford film this year's production of Dream: I think it's too good to lose after this year. There are so many neat ideas and fun approaches and clever stagings in this production - and it all holds together, too. The acting is strong, the fogger is used as a prop on stage, and the curtain call is a full-company dance number.

\o/ GO SEE IT. It'll be on stage until the end of October. And take me with you when you go!
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I have, however, seen three movies in the last three days: Public Enemies, Moon and Drag Me to Hell, each of which I recommend (though for different reasons). Public Enemies has lots of style, Moon is stark but funny (and contained yet not claustrophobic), and Drag Me to Hell makes you forget that Sam Raimi made the leaden (humourless) crapfest that was Spiderman III.

Tomorrow I'm heading off to Stratford for the third time this summer to see Three Sisters, Cyrano de Bergerac and Macbeth. Three Sisters doesn't star Colm Feore, but the other two do.

As I'm back to watching movies (lazy, lazy film grad), I've been updating my Twitter feed of movie reviews.

I also have Opinions about all the movie trailers I've seen, but it seems like there are a bunch of fun-looking sf/action flicks coming up. Whoever's in charge of naming these movies needs a refresher in not sucking, though. Armoured? Gamer? Bruce Willis Has to Save the World Again Surrogate? Lame titles, man.
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After a week of pure (exhausting) awesome - that I'd say peaked with giggle fits while watching a professional production of Julius Caesar* - the only sane response is to cuddle into bed for an extended period of time.

Which is awesome when you don't have to work the next day. (Eep!) But! Fun was had, sights were toured (touristed?), plays were watched and freakishly good weather was most enthusiastically enjoyed.


*Never take slashers to a sausage fest. And never feed them The Importance of Being Earnest as a matinee, either.
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Went to see the Hamlet at Stratford again yesterday - it's still quite a good show. It it wasn't a fantastically well-staged show (which it is, the Canadian television novelty casting factor would be enough to get me in the seat. Geraint Wyn Davies as Polonius was just as great the second time. The dude who played Horatio was on This is Wonderland, and I think all of the members of the court were on SGA at some point... (Or any other Vancouver/Toronto show.)

Which is all an excuse to talk about next year's Stratford, and the shows' casts for next summer.

For example: Colm Feore as Macbeth (and Geraint Wyn Davies as Duncan). But mostly, Colm Feore! As Macbeth! Geraint Wyn Davies is also going to be Bottom in Midsummer Night's Dream (yes, I do own Forever Knight DVDs. Why do you ask?).

Ben Carlson (this year's Hamlet, ♥) is going to be Brutus to (guess who?) Geraint Wyn Davies as Caesar, which is funny, 'cause Polonius and Hamlet have this exchange about how Polonius played Caesar and in this production the "Brutus killed me" line is played for laughs. (I'm okay with being a huge nerd, yes.) (Edit: Oh, and the guy who played Horatio this year is going to be Cassius in this production. :D)

And because Romans are awesome, next year we're getting A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. There's also some Ben Johnson, Chekov, Anthony Burgess, a one-man play based on the letters of Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Ernest (with Ben Carlson!)... Whee!
charloween: (Default)
This weekend I went with [livejournal.com profile] firstgold to see Hamlet and Caesar and Cleopatra at the Stratford Festival. Caesar and Cleopatra was written by George Bernard Shaw, and it's everything you'd expect from one of his works: light, witty and a fun ol' time peppered with digs at the British. It was excellent. Christopher Plummer (as Caesar) was fantastic. The costumes were gorgeous and the staging was simple and made good use of the Festival Theatre's stage.

This year's Hamlet, however, is beyond excellent. It's a production where every choice that was made I agreed with - and I anticipated few of their choices. But as the show progressed, I really found little to disagree with. The setting made sense (pre-WWI Denmark), the costumes were gorgeous and the acting, ah, the acting.

The best part of this Hamlet - and what makes it so different and so much better than your average production - is that everyone on stage was having fun. They kept the jokes (they kept nearly everything, it was a 3-hour production with the intermission), and they had us laughing quite a bit through the entire thing. Polonius, Laertes and Ophelia were a functional family unit in their first few scenes, Claudius and Gertrude were all honeymoony (in a non-creepy way) and Hamlet, ah, Hamlet.

Ben Carlson plays Hamlet and does it very, very well. He's not a broody mope, nor is he a naive whiner, he's just upset and overwhelmed. His madness is hysterics (a very manly form!), the kind of overtired, overwhelmed, confused flail that happens when you can't even begin to see how to start coping. Some Hamlets are moody whiners with entitlement complexes and weird daddy issues (even weirder since it says in the play that Hamlet is 30). Not this Hamlet. He acts his age!

All of the characters are well grounded and quite credible. Much of this credibility comes from how well the cast works together (oh, and they do), but the sets have a very large part to play as well. The first scene with Gertrude and Claudius (where they get Hamlet to stay at home rather than going back to school) is at a Christmas party, not in a stuffy throne room. Everyone mixes and mingles and it is not stiff - they're having a ball! Later, when Claudius and Laertes plot to rig the duel with Hamlet, they're talking over a game of billiards.* That setting makes the king and the student equals and co-conspirators; but the idea of the billiards room as a separate space for guys is borne out as the scene progresses.

*And kudos to the stage crew for dragging a full billiards table onto the stage so quickly and silently. Yikes.

If you're anywhere in Southern Ontario, or have the means to get to Southern Ontario: see this Hamlet! It's been getting rave reviews for a reason. A very good reason. It's imaginative, takes chances that work, and doesn't concern itself with consciously being a Good And Worthy Production. Rather, it gathers a bunch of people who want to have fun telling a damn good story, and they end with one of the best versions of the play that I've come across. Magic. Absolute magic.
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Win #1: according to the email I got yesterday, I won a phone (a Samsung m510) from a contest in Eye Weekly. This is cool because a) it’s a Virgin Mobile phone, b) I’ve been wanting to get a phone-with-mp3 player ‘cause it’s annoying to cart and charge two bits of technology and c) contracts suck and I’m so ready to leave Bell and its $25/month plan that never costs me less than $55 every damn month. System access fee. 911 fee. Extra for caller ID, voice mail, text messaging. Plus tax. Grrr.

Am investigating. At any rate I’ll have the handset, to do with what I choose. It has a camera. (Phones can do that now? :P)

Win #2: in Slings and Arrows, the not-Stratford theatre festival is called the “New Burbage” festival. Thanks to this Shakespeare class, I get the reference! James Burbage built the first proper theatre just outside the London city limits in the late 1500s. It was dismantled after a few years and its timbers were used to build the Globe theatre. Shakespeare’s theatre, therefore, is the new Burbage theatre.

Win #3: thanks also to this Shakespeare class I’ve now read The Tempest which means I get the Sycorax joke at the end of that Doctor Who episode.

Oh, Shakespeare references.

Lose #1: the normally-competent woman at Tim’s in Seneca made my coffee with sugar. *shudder* What part of “coffee with milk” includes the phrase “and sugar”. Yuck. Even worse is cold coffee with milk and sugar.

Lose #2: my thesis advisor is AWOL. Haven’t heard from him in two months. Problem is, it was back then that I asked for reference letters for grad apps. The first two grad apps are due next Tuesday. I’m going professor-stalking later today.
charloween: (qi smarties)
1. I need more Moonlight and I need it now. It has unexpectedly eaten my brain. There aren't many shows that'll have your vampire main character bouncing up and down all giddy and happy. minor spoilers, if anyone else even watches this thing )

2. The drain in the tub is acting hinky again so I'm going to maybe have to call the super on this one. I was having such a good day, too. Grrrr.

3. The History class is cancelled on Monday, which means I can use all that time to get ahead on the Massively Evil History Paper OF DOOM (And Also Pirates).

4. I bought an SATA II drive BUT only an SATA enclosure for said drive. *facepalm*

5. The "Shakespeare in Performance" class is going to be v. interesting, because it's Shakespeare's more controversial plays as taught from a director/producer perspective, not an acting or English lit (*hiss*) point of view. Our major final project is to propose an alternate staging for one of the five plays we're reading this term... which, to me, is just like saying "Go Forth And Write A Shakespeare Xover!". The Tempest, set in the FBI! A Civil War-era The Taming of the Shrew! The Merchant of Venice in a high school locker room! Measure for Measure in the White House! Othello... in the Old West!

(Speaking of Othello, the prof was telling us about a recent British version of that play, with Christopher Eccelston as Iago. The prof wanted to know if anyone knew of "this actor" and what else he'd been in. Three guesses who spoke up.)
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