Feb. 12th, 2017

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Many thanks to Corone for providing tickets to the current double bill of Shakespeare comedies at the Haymarket. A friend and I had two lovely consecutive Friday nights out at the theatre as a result.

First up was Love's Labours Lost, a play I'm not very familiar with, having only come across it from the 2000 Alicia Silverstone/Nathan Lane film version (there are lots of other famous people in it, but weirdly those are the only two I remembered before looking it up).

Anyway, the Haymarket production was great fun, and it was a very enjoyable experience. The set was amazing, featuring the frontage of a castle, complete with two turrets, and a moving platform that provided several different interiors. There were lots of lovely comedic touches in the interpretation, with various aspects of the staging and movement of the cast adding a great deal to the overall tone. As one would expect from Shakespeare, there was some great linguistic humour as well, though I thought the Nine Worthies show went on a bit too long. I loved the 1910s period setting and costumes, and I thought the cast was generally very good. But the teddy bear absolutely stole the show! He was used to great effect in one particular scene, and I exclaimed just as loudly as his owner when one of the other characters threatened to drop him off the castle roof. The ending of the play was a bit downbeat for a comedy, but it did allow for a very nice lead-in to the next week's production, which featured the same cast in a very similar setting.

That production was Much Ado About Nothing, one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, and definitely the one I know best, having seen many differed stage versions (and having watched the Kenneth Branagh film version too many times to count). That was perhaps a slight disadvantage in this case, since I was always comparing this version to others I've seen, but it was generally very well done. I had two issues with it, though. One was that the teddy bear didn't make an appearance, since he was my favourite character from the previous show. The other was the interpretation of Dogberry. He's one of the few of Shakespeare's clowns that I actually find funny, and I usually have no problem laughing at him, as he is generally presented as pompous and self-important, and is rendered comical by his misplaced desire to impress his compatriots and betters via his speech. However, in this production, he was presented as palsied and cognitively impaired, which made him rather a pitiable figure, and rendered the audience's mirth at his expense quite uncomfortable. Still, overall, I enjoyed the production, and thought the cast did a very good job.

This week, I also finished listening to A Natural History of Dragons, the first in the Lady Trent Memoirs series by Marie Brennan. It's narrated by a lady from an alternate-Victorian history, who has made a career of studying dragons, and relates her adventures from the vantage-point of several decades in the future. This book charts her childhood, adolescence, marriage and first overseas voyage, and is tremendous fun. In fact, not even the inclusion of my most hated pet peeve in fiction, right at the end, could significantly dent my enjoyment of the book as a whole, and I will most definitely be carrying on with the rest of the series. The narrator was also extremely good, which always helps, and I very much look forward to having her relate more of Lady Trent's adventures to me in the near future.

September 2017

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