May 22.2014 Boiling Point

In Juliet’s Garden

and Ophelia’s Rope and Friends

May 22, 2014 — I’m a little confused by tonight’s performance of “In Juliet’s Garden”, My limited imagination really can only come up with two possible ways to play the script that was performed. One is to type cast the female characters from Shakespeare that are gathered onstage and let them play against type as the modern actresses who recognize each other from performances at modern venues. I can’t imagine the difficulty a director might have trying to cast to type with such an intimate, short run show in Houston. The other would be to cast against type and let it be amazing how well the actors had inhabited those iconic Shakespeare women. With this approach, which requires enormous research and effort from the actors, an audience member might say, “It doesn’t look so much like Juliet but something about her seems to BE Juliet” It also seems to me that this approach might require a slap in the face, dead on the money, “like an impressionist”, characterization to pull off this play. I’m not sure which of these approaches, if either, where used. The words of the script, it seems to me, are too sparsely and rawly an argument played out in front of us to allow the actors to play their natural selves, just talking about acting Ophelia and yet, still, not looking like Ophelia, for instance.

I don’t know if it was acting or type casting but I correctly saw ‘Nurse’ the minute after Lori walked on stage. Seeing Katy’s Ophelia, though captivating because of the intensity with which she tried to squeeze a moment, a memory out of her performance like orange zest, was similar to seeing a former girlfriend who had aged twenty years but still smiled and opened up the way you remember when she looked at you, but, because she kept so much reserved and stifled and private, you knew she was going home with someone else.
Renata Smith, playing Shakespeare’s representative and not an iconic Shakespeare character, had much more room to move freely and create interesting modern characteristics.

The costume colors CLASHED, reportedly, on purpose but was there a clash on stage or just a retort against thinking of Shakespeare’s plays like a blockbuster movie maker might?

Ophelia’s Rope got in some good zingers and guffaw lines during their improvisation. What a GREAT audience! They made the show much more fun to watch. I started wondering how much of a magic trick this type of comedy improv is, asking for one number and one color and then running with how and what they feel like putting in sequence after that. I’m sure it’s been done before but I suggest that allowing the audience to shift everything by calling out words during the scenes, might be a way to keep it fresh and moving and more definitely improvised. Making it a rule that the audience must be trying to make it more interesting and better and putting in another rule that the onstage comedians can say something like “wait a second” before they do the inevitable, called for shift if a punch line that is being set up is just around the corner, might be fun. I guess another rule might be that, although an admission of a sort of failure, if an onstage comedian says, for instance, “shhhh” to an audience member, they must shhhhh for the good of the show.

The male improv players who comprised a guest group were good enough. I really, really don’t advocate ANY censorship, don’t believe in forbidden words, but I just mention that it might have been a good thing that you didn’t bring your down’s syndrome, or speech impaired, or slow learning child to tonight’s improvisational performance by them if that child was not good at laughing at the world and him or herself.

I look forward to the next show by these wonderful, creative, well trained, and professional, paid performers. (not to say that I am certain they were acting as professionals tonight, as I don’t know if it is a pay or community type theater group)