riontel: (safari)
The universe evidently decided that leaving me in London with no glasses at the most inopportune moment was wrong. I was amply compensated today. Not only did I have my glasses but I was also occupying the best seat in the house, right in the front row, when Alex Hurt dropped his pants during Dada Woof Papa Hot.
The stage in Lincoln Center Theater is designed in such a way that I quite literally ended up with some usually private male parts staring me right in the face. I was impressed, which is more than can be said about the dude on my left, who was clearly dragged to the theater by his wife. He might have been jealous, Alex Hurt certainly has nothing to be ashamed of.

The play itself, though ridiculously named, was very good, hitting the funny and serious notes just right, thanks to a very good writing job by Peter Parnell. I would have expected the acting to be a bit smoother and less over the top by this point in the production. It seemed like some of the actors were trying to project up to the gallery, which LCT doesn't have. It got better as it went on, so maybe they just needed to warm up. Despite that little nitpick, I really recommend the play with its unusual take on the universally compelling topic of marriage and kids.

Small tip: the play goes for an hour and forty minutes with no intermissions, drinking a full cup of tea right before is NOT a good idea.

I also saw Hand to God recently. It's finishing its run on Broadway and moving to London and I say good riddance. The only thing I liked about it was Sarah Stiles's performance and her character Jessica. Everything else was ridiculous, moralizing, and, above all else, boring, which is a cardinal sin.
riontel: (safari)
While in London went to The Globe to see Richard II.



Some impressions: )
riontel: (safari)
Seeing An Act of God made me wish somebody would adapt Книгу Натаниэля for Broadway and make this into a two act play. Not that the play wasn't ninety minutes of fun on its own. Some good laughs, some really good laughs, some preachy moralizing (in a play about god, imagine that!) They pulled their punches in few spots. Gabriel is "the angel who dictated the words of the Quran to Muhammed. That of course was the beginning of Islam, and at the request of the producers, that is the last you’ll be hearing about Islam tonight." And it was. Can't really blame them, though my philosophy is, if you are going to offend, go all out. Thankfully, there are still Jews, Christians and sports fans.

Jim Parsons as a vessel to host God was indeed wonderful. His mannerisms and expressions were spot on. "For lo, I have endowed him with a winning, likable personality; and know of a certainty that your apprehension of My depthless profundities will be aided by his offbeat charm" and "In the desert I appeared as a burning bush. On Broadway, I appear as Sheldon Cooper. Know thy audience." I think it would have been a nice touch if they took it one step further and had Leonard play archangel Michael. The actual guy was sort of blah.

Mac OS X based Universe 2.0, as a replacement for Windows, was a hoot ("we got Steve Jobs few years ago,") but I was very tempted to yell out a suggestion to go open source.

Loved the set. Really loved the special pride Playbill issue.

The play origins go to @TheTweetOfGod by David Javerbaum, the former writer for The Daily Show. Ironically, I don't follow twitter (any twitter), never really watched The Daily Show, and still haven't gotten past the first season of The Big Bang Theory (hoping it will get to Netflix some day.)

If this sounds like something you might enjoy, you still have a month to catch it at the theater. And if you can't make it, there is always a book.
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Saw "Wicked" on Broadway on Friday. They've been selling discounted tickets all over the place and after overdosing on Shakespeare last year I felt like seeing something completely different. Really enjoyed it, it was funny and clever and had nodes to Shakespeare, Socrates, and "Legally Blond" and lines like "Where I'm from, the best way to bring people together... is to give them a really good enemy." The story of "Wicked", in case you haven't heard of it before, is what was happening in Oz before Dorothy dropped in (sorry, there is just no way around that little pun) and who The Wicked Witch of the West really was. If you've been eying Broadway repertoire and wondering what to see, "Wicked" is a pretty good choice. Kids in the audience seemed to be enjoying themselves, too.
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Saw Globe's production of Richard III today, which plays in repertory with Twelfth Night we attended earlier. This play is just as spectacularly produced, with lavish costumes faithful to Shakespeare's era, authentic music and spare but lovely decor. The cast was great, handling bard's words with ease and grace, fitting their characters perfectly... except, that is, for Richard, who was despicable and not in a good way. Richard, in my opinion, was supposed to be vile and conniving, sinister, manipulative and ruthless, but at no point goofy or clownish, and he certainly was not written as the play's comic relief. I was absolutely appalled when Mark Rylance limped and stumbled onto the stage to wink and grimace his way through "Now is the winter of our discontent..." It got progressively worse from there, I literally cringed every time Richard showed up and opened his mouth. I was sorely tempted to revive the tradition of throwing rotten produce at the stage. For the life of me I can't understand why the rest of the cast was so convincingly acting out a tragedy while Richard was performing a bad gag-filled comedy.
riontel: (Default)
Saw Lincoln Theater's production of Macbeth yesterday. It was a grand spectacle. The sets were elegantly spare and moodily dark, with an interpretation of "The Seal of God's Truth" mandala etched into the center of the stage. Few moving components, tables, stairs and the like, were used to sketch the scene, with more of the effect achieved through clever lighting than through an actual decor. Costumes were chic and sleek, Lady Macbeth in a black strapless gown (!), with lots of studded leathers for the war scenes and three-piece long coat suits off the battlefield for the men. Not a kilt in sight. The overall color scheme was very much to my taste, black on black with a rare splash of red and silver.

As a contrast to everybody else's elegant attire the gender-bending Witches and Hecate were somewhat appropriately dressed in tattered rags and sported bizarre makeup and hairdos. And there were a bit too much of them, more than what you would normally expect, if you were just going by Shakespeare's text. They acted out some of the parts, like the sergeant, the porter, the third murderer, etc. They were lurking and cavorting in the background and through the scenes, and generally suggesting a much more active role in the events. Hecate, who normally has just a bit part, was all over the thing, which made her complaint of not being included in the original scheme with Macbeth rather puzzling. And in addition to the three expected witches there were some other witch-like characters crawling around the stage, not serving any artistic purpose that I could discern. Not sure what was up with that. The witches + Hecate + the other creatures were just a tiny bit over the top.

The acting was uneven, Shakespeare sure doesn't come naturally to everybody. Unfortunately it came least naturally to Macbeth himself, played by Ethan Hawke. Hawke can act, and overact in spots, but clearly pronounce his lines, not so much, at least not so that anybody past first row could catch. Malcolm, on the other hand, was loud and clear but couldn't act. I rather liked the neurotic Lady Macbeth, I think Anne-Marie Duff did a decent job of her, and they had good chemistry with Hawke. The rest of the cast were good as well.

It was a contrast to the Globe's faithful production of "Twelfth Night", with their authentic costumes, setting and music, but riveting in its own way. The atmosphere, sets, costumes, great music, strobe lights and projections, were very cool. Director's vision - quite interesting. Acting, not excellent but mostly good. Few suggestions: trim down Weird Sisters, nix the Hecate and teach Ethan Hawke to speak above a whisper and deliver his lines (mumbling "tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow" - so not cool). Overall very enjoyable but not of the standing ovations caliber.
riontel: (safari)
Went to see Shakespeare’s Globe productions of Twelfth Night at The Belasco Theatre. We first stopped by Bryant Park to check out this year's Winter Village and then practically swam to the theater in the pouring rain. Got completely drenched. Those who arrived at the theater early got to watch the cast get dressed right on stage, which was totally fascinating. The production in keeping with Shakespeare's times used all-male cast, traditional music and musical instruments and a setting reminiscent of the type of hall the original was first performed at. So we got to watch a couple of male actors get decked out in traditional female garb of that time. That's a lot of layers, let me tell you!

While Stephen Fry as Malvolio was probably the main draw for many in the sold-out audience, the whole production was wonderfully done: setting, costumes, music, acting. Just superb. Sir Toby and Maria were my personal favorites, and I've liked Samuel Barnett (Viola) since his The History Boys days. Twelfth Night is not my favorite of Bard's plays and I am more partial to his tragedies in general, but I do highly recommend it. Similar cast (minus Fry) is doing Richard III at the same time. They are both going to be around until February 16th.
riontel: (safari)
I am on vacation right now (it was either that or flying to/from Boston during Thanksgiving week, which was out of the question) so today I decided to tear myself away from the favorite spot on the couch and work on some cultural enrichment. Visited Frick Collection for the first time. Their special exhibition right now is "Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis". There are fifteen paintings all together on loan from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in The Hague, with Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring" given pride of place in its own room. It's pretty, tiny and there probably wouldn't be all this hype about it if not for Scarlett Johansson. The rest of the paintings are crammed together in another room. The exhibition is small but nice, if you like Dutch painters. It's not that much different from Frick's permanent collection, which has its own three Vermeers (or, at least, that's how many I was able to identify), some Rembrandts and other stuff as well. I am not big on portraits, which dominate the collection. Their Turners were pretty nice and I really liked the clocks. Surprisingly, at 2pm on a cold and rainy Tuesday there was an actual line to get into the museum and it wasn't all made up of tourists either.

After two hours of culture, I detoured into the shopping mecca of Madison Avenue. Not my usual haunts by any stretch, but N.'s stepmom requested a Mulberry bag (that's like Burberry but fancier, in case you were wondering) so there I went. It was sort of cool to walk into the store, point at a seemingly random purse and tell the sales person "I'll take that", without inquiring about the price, trying it on, etc. Sure, I buy exorbitantly priced accessories every day, nothing special here. All the bags I've ever owned in my entire life, including luggage probably don't add up to this one ugly purse.

To finish off the day on the right note, I rendezvoused with [livejournal.com profile] a_lazy_legend at the Cort Theater for recently opened "Waiting for Godot" featuring Patrick Stewart as Vladimir and Ian McKellen as Estragon or Professor Xavier and Magneto in "Waiting for Godot" as Lena called it. Since I didn't get tickets ahead of time we ended up with really cheap standing room "seats", which in retrospect wasn't very smart of me, I have a tendency to pass out if I stand too long. So somewhere in the middle of first act I quietly migrated to the steps, which turned out to be more comfortable than the usual theater seats, since you can stretch your legs. Given that we were mezzanine center, the unobstructed view was great too. Play was excellent, both McKellen and Stewart were awesome, and the production was very well done, though I suspect some slight reinterpretation of original Beckett. I enjoyed it tremendously. The play is running until March 2nd and I highly recommend it. I am thinking of seeing "No Man's Land" with the same cast as well, if I get a chance.

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