We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
William Shakespeare pretty much stole his plots. That's fine with me. And I suppose he was commercially right to take on the then-old Romeo and Juliet tale, judging it to be one that would sell tickets. Passion, blood, melodramatic death, etc. He wanted to be wealthy, and he was. Little could he have imagined, though, that his version of R&J would be selling tickets in 2013, both on and off Broadway.
It's a silly story, and a silly play. No character development, no fine poetry, no tragedy. Two stupid hormone-crazed 14 year-olds off themselves because the mailman missed delivering a letter in an Italy in which mail delivery is spotty and the vendetta is the spice of life. Poor mail delivery is not the stuff of tragedy. In fact, the play is not a tragedy in Aristotelian terms - or any terms.
My drama expert kid says she thinks it was written as a spoof.
West Side Story beats the Shakespeare, in my view, by miles.
In Verona last month, Mrs. BD and I avoided the Juliet tourist trap baloney. I hate that kind of phony crap but, again, it sells tickets.
Instead of the B'way version with heart-throb Orlando Bloom, we went to see the opening night at our regular Classic Stage which we support to a humble degree, starring (heart-throb) Elizabeth Olsen.
Dumb play, and a lousy performance by all. Where did WS instruct the players to shout their lines? Or to do a ponderous delivery? "Look Mom - I'm reciting Shakespeare!" When people do Shakespeare, they forget how to act like people because it's SHAKESPEARE. Like it's holy.
The only plus was dinner with one of the NYC kids at the Blue Water Grill afterwards with a wonderful jazz singer under our balcony seating. I do love that joint with their music, the exceedingly pleasing surroundings and staff, and their lobster mashed taters. I'll do a whole post about Branzino when I get to it. A tasty fish, but any grilled fish (or anything) is good on a bed of lobster mashed potatoes.
My pic is the pleasant East Village, with the Classic Stage sign. Despite this screw-up, we still like them. They do good Ibsen and Chekhov if you like that sort of thing.
My fourth form (tenth grade) English teacher taught us Julius Caesar. I loved it because of the way he presented it. I never read R&J (saw the movie when it came out a LONG time ago) so I can't really comment on it.
I once heard the a story that a low-information high school kid put down Shakespeare is so full of trite platitudes (as though he came by them rather than initiating them). Maybe the "platitudes" are older than I thought!
Speaking of West Side Story, I find Bruce Springsteen's first album, The Wild, the Innocent, and the E-Street Shuffle, to be the 1970's musical version of the play/movie. Several vividly told and engaging ballads of the same genre. After that, I didn't have much use for him.
Please! West Side Story is a trite piece of ___ from beginning to end. The only time it aspires to anything like an emotional height or insight into human nature is when it makes a flaccid attempt to imitate Romeo and Juliet. One piece of inspired composition in the score is the only saving grace of the musical.
I have long thought that R&J was overblown and overrated. Glad to see that we agree.
Shakespeare has given us many useful and iconic phrases and words. I appreciate how he shaped our culture. But my bigger problem with his work is that half of the plot twists revolve around people WHO CAN'T RECOGNIZE THEIR OWN (fill in the blank here with appropriate person...ie spouse, lover, brother, etc). Was that a plot convention in the 16th century? Or were they all so blind from the smoky buildings that nobody could see well enough to tell that they were looking at their husband in drag? I understand that the theatre changed a lot from WS's day. But still, the whole idea leaves me cold.