Saturday, January 21, 2006

What am I doing in a class joint like this?

It's been a Goodman weekend for me. The big shiny Mary Zimmerman Pericles on Thursday, and the adorable "Year with Frog and Toad" last night. Again, I have to stop going out after shows, as it throws off my blogging schedule.

"Frog and Toad," I should mention, is definitely a children's show, and there are children there. I think kids are very cute and entertaining, and up till now, I've always believed they enchance any performance experience. (The small girl who sat behind me at Lookingglass Alice was one of the highlights of the show.) No longer. I've learned the hard way that, while adults are larger, less droll audience members, they have far superior control over their bladders. The fetching child in the seat next to me became way less cute when she peed during the watering can sequence.

After discreetly changing seats during intermission, I relaxed and focused on the sweet gentleness and spotless professionalism of the show. It's really lovely, funny if low-key and has some great tunes. It's worth watching for the costumes alone, which skip make-up and furry suits for witty, evocative outfits that a mouse or a bird or a mole would wear if they were people.

As for Pericles- well, it's not a very good play. One of those Shakespeare plays that people tend to think he didn't write all of, owing to how it sucks. It's repetive, much of the speech is stilted, there are too many plots, some of which vanish entirely. I find it most useful as context for the disjunctive, wrenchingly emotional "Winter's Tale" and the perfect perfect perfect "Tempest." Shakespeare wanted to do this particular sort of fairy-tale like story, encompassing both a terrible tragedy and a reconcilation, and it's instructive to watch him grapple with the difficulties of staging that sort of plot before hitting on the over-the-shoulder-shoot of the Tempest. Luckily, there does seem to be one more use for Pericles: as an excuse for Mary Zimmerman's trademark lyrical staging. Woot!

I have just one more thing to say. Pericles, as cast and played, is such a doof.


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