Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Did they even have crack back then?

"Man of La Mancha" tonight. Nifty! I didn't know it had a framing device (Cervantes telling the Don Quixote story to a bunch of prisoners during the Spanish Inquisition), which means it has at least three layers going at any given time. This played out in lovely ways sometimes... like when a violent type who'd been trying to get a knock in on Cervantes the whole time got to play an opponent of Quixote (who was 'enacted' by Cervantes). Just when it seemed like some real violence might erupt in level one, the thug took a classic underarm stab and died a hammy, hammy death. Rejoicing!

Cervantes/Quixote was less central to the story than you might expect. The whole Sancho Panza relationship, the cornerstone of the books, was eclipsed by the Dulcinea thing. Dulcinea, played by a tavern slut played by a crazy prison slut, is Quixote's main foil here- which makes sense, because the musical has jettisoned all the satire and most of the comedy. She was rather splendidly haggish, shrieking and throwing things at people, and growling in a low, rough voice- very much the Spanish Inquisition corner crack whore. So yeah, it could be a bit much that she gets inevitably redeemed, but once you have your female lead rubbing a "knight's favor" in her armpits out of spite, you've won me over. Also, she got most of the best songs.

So, I could mention how this the musical is fundamentally untrue to the books, but that'd be unfair. And silly. I think the authors knew perfectly well that they were taking a crazy, multi-layered, hetero-explosive* satire and making it into a message play about dreaming the impossible dream against impossible odds. They weren't adapting the book, they were writing a musical about what that crazy old coot does to people. Against their better judgement. The end of the first book, I believe, has Quixote returing to sanity on his deathbed. The public wouldn't accept it, knock-offs sold like hotcakes, and Cervantes wrote a sequel. "That ending is bullcrap! Let him ride again! Let him ride forever! Sancho too!"

*So full of different kinds of things that it's like to bust.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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10:48 AM  
Blogger Christopher Willard author of Garbage Head said...

Yep, Let Donkey Hoety ride again but we can't get rid of Bland of La Mancha fast enough. It's as bad as Sound of Music --- note the nazi's didn't go bezerk until AFTER julie andrews played the guitar.

10:51 AM  

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