… bold brilliance …
This play is for everybody who loves words, word play, unexpected puns and rhymes of an unbound imagination. It’s hilarious –and expands one’s sense of the English language.
A smart man makes a really bad bargain
Faustus makes his famous life and death deal with Lucifer that he will have lower-down devil Mephistopheles as his servant, to fulfill all his wishes, but he’s already been warned: Lucifer is Mephistopheles’ true master. Ultimately not even a devil can serve two masters.
David Ives does it again — almost. His earlier adaptation of Moliere’s le Misanthrope (1666), renamed The School for Lies (reviewed here in 2011) was an orgy of unending laughter. This adaptation of Regnard’s le Légataire Universel (1708) which he renames The Heir Apparent isn’t as successful although Ives follows his same rules of mod transformation, because Regnard’s play falls short of the brilliance of le Misanthrope.
… Brecht no way…
This early play of Brecht, set in British Colonial India, takes up the story of a pleasant minded civilian, an Irishman named Galy Gay, who — on his way to buy fish for himself and his wife — is waylaid by three soldiers whose fourth companion has disappeared and is, by force and brain washing (though that term came in later), turned into a enthused soldier, defined here as a killing machine.
… Where art Romeo and Juliet? …
What I liked best about this Classic Stage production of Romeo and Juliet was the depiction of the men around the Montague Romeo and those around the Capulets as young toughs with a contemporary style. Nothing new about that, of course, think of West Side Story, and Shakespeare in contemporary dress is commonplace. But Harry Ford (substituting the night I attended for T. R. Knight), with his thick body packed into leather and to-the-head corn rows makes a charismatic Mercutio, volatile, dirty-mouthed, amused and amusing, and the rest of the guys fit in to the idea, though they’re not consistently as convincing.
Ivanov is not as perfect a play as Chekhov’s Three Sisters (at Classic Stage) or The Cherry Orchard, which came later, but I enjoyed it even more — filled with fascinating and amusing characters, it spills over into a rambunctious panorama of life. That’s all the more amazing because — characteristically Chekhov — the characters like to proclaim that they’re “bored ” but the play is vital and engaging — how does he do it? One thing: the writing is marvelous. And in this Classic Stage production, the acting is superb, and Austin Pendleton’s naturalistic, soft-voiced direction highly effective in drawing you in and making you believe.
The conflict in Galileo is iconic: freedom of ideas vs. censorship. Brecht peppers his play and his character of Galileo (1564-1642 ) with some Marxist views which are anachronistic but the play triggers thought and thrills one at the power of human intellect.
Everybody’s having a good time looking through the telescope Galileo has recently perfected, and figuring out its benefits and fiscal profits. Galileo, short of money, wouldn’t mind reaping some profit, too, but fundamentally he’s peering into his telescope in his quest for truth, recording his observations, and thinking about them. His observations and calculations reveal to him that the earth rotates around the sun, not the other way around.