- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (National Theatre Live)
5/29/18 (Tues), Tokyo
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern get their day again in the Old Vic’s revival of Tom Stoppard’s through-the-looking-glass take on Hamlet, broadcast as part of the great National Theatre Live series. I always thought that Beckett did the two-man existential comedy act with more punch and efficiency, but R&G is a fun ride nevertheless and with funnier lines to boot (“We’re actors – we’re the opposite of people” “[He’s] stark raving sane” “Life is a gamble with terrible odds. If it were a bet you wouldn’t take it” “The bad end unhappily, the good unluckily… that is what Tragedy means”). Its concept of diving into a classic through its minor characters is feeling its age, partly because of the many imitations it has spawned (Wicked, anyone?), and the part with the players is a hippie touch stuck in the 1960s, saved only by a fabulously flamboyant performance by David Haig as the lead player. But the dazzling wordplay and audaciousness of the interaction between Shakespeare’s fictional world and Stoppard’s own are as fresh as ever. Continue reading
- The Inheritance, Part 1, 4/26/18 (Thurs), Young Vic
- The Inheritance, Part 2, 5/1/18 (Tues), Young Vic
The Inheritance, Part 1: The first half of a seven-hour portrait of gay yuppies in the Trump era — can’t get more contemporary than that. It is reminiscent of Angels in America in its epic canvas, multiple story lines, gay Manhattan setting, AIDS-related theme, broken relationships and up-to-date politics under a conservative government (plus a lead role that would be perfect for Andrew Garfield). But it is not as angry or preachy. Whereas Angels was written and staged at a time when the gay community was still finding its voice in the face of a mysterious deadly virus and social ostracism, the situation has changed drastically in the intervening years, with gays enjoying much higher visibility and widespread acceptance. The real difference is that this generation has no collective memory of the road that others had to travel to put it there, and the theme of the show is how to remember and deal with the past in order to appreciate the present. (Angels has its own issues in how it interprets the past, but that’s another story.)
1/27/18 (Sat), Tokyo
The latest rendering of Mishima’s overwrought, exceedingly talky but highly popular detective drama of 1962. I saw the traditional shingeki version ten years ago with the sleek villainess played by the legendary Miwa Akihiro, Mishima’s own choice for the film version (and supposed lover), and came out unsure whether I was seeing a serious rendering or a parody. This time was a new production by the celebrated British director David Leveaux, who, less tied to the old ways, would presumably be coming to the material with fresh eyes. I was also encouraged by good reviews by friends. The production was completely sold out throughout the run, but I managed to grab two day seats.
- Junk, 11/16/17 (Thurs), Lincoln Center
- Torch Song, 11/17/17 (Fri), Broadway
- Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, 11/18/17 (Sat), off Broadway
- Time and the Conways, 11/18/17 (Sat), Broadway
- The Band’s Visit, 11/19/17 (Sun), Broadway
- Brigadoon, 11/19/17 (Sun), Encores!
A brief visit to New York on the way elsewhere. Shows I missed this time included Dear Evan Hansen (tickets impossible to get in the lead actor’s final days) as well as Hamilton and Bruce Springsteen (tried half-heartedly and unsuccessfully for the lottery for both). I decided against the revival of M Butterfly, one of my favorite shows, when I heard that the author had added a part describing how the Chinese guy disguised his “package”, which sounded much too literal for a show about illusion. (And I didn’t need another apparent reference by Hwang to small Asian penises, an obsession he needs to overcome.) Continue reading
- Othello (National Theatre Live)
I loved Adrian Lester a few years back in a show called Red Velvet as a 19th-century actor playing Othello, so I wasn’t going to miss him in the real thing. With direction by Nicholas Hytner and the added attraction of Rory Kinnear as Iago, my expectations were high.
10/10/15 (Sat), Tokyo, ¥7,500
A revival of Lepage’s breakout one-man show of 1995 – a reworking really, since it adds a character and evidently ups the technology factor considerably. I never saw the original, but any Lepage show is an event as far as I’m concerned, so I bought the tickets without knowing much about it (and despite the off-putting title).