Saturday, March 24, 2007

Theater Talk

From the pixels of Live Design magazine, a quick gambol through four productions, two on Broadway, and two off. I feel I see Liev Schreiber as much as I see my parents, and the visits are equally welcome. But with a baby on the way and Naomi Watts to co-habit with I suspect the siren song of TV and movie money will cause him to cut back on his stage work, so Talk Radio may be your last chance in a while to see Liev live, through June 24.

I spent some time at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last week. We seem to be the only ones in our circle of friends to have enjoyed Matthew Bourne's balletic take on Edward Scissorhands. True, there's as much pantomime in the retelling than there is dance, but it's quite well done and put me in mind of Jacques Tati's Playtime, where everyone is indulging in some sort of business and you don't know where to look (Edward isn't always the focal point of the piece). Then again, I'm not the biggest fan of the wispy (and at times didactic) Tim Burton film, so the changes made to the storyline didn't bug me (though the ice sculpture bit really does belong at the very end; its placement toward the end of the ballet makes the rest anticlimactic). In any case, the embroidered Danny Elfman score is wonderful and the production a treat to look at from beginning to end.

No reservations whatsoever about another British import, Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, a co-production of the Watermill and the Old Vic playing in repertory with Twelfth Night. Besides, of course, the musical comedy version Kiss Me, Kate, I've seen the 1967 Taylor-Burton-Zeffirelli film and the Delacorte's 1999 production, which both winked at the sexual politics of the piece, but as performed by the all-male Propeller company Petruchio and Kate's turbulent relationship is no laughing matter. The male Kate (Simon Scardifield), a spiky, punkish blonde, gives as good as he gets in the fight scenes, but by Act II is as bedraggled as a wounded bird--the ending, usually played with an ironic nod to our supposedly "enlightened" sensibilities, is piercing. There is a lot of humor in this production, with the actors popping in and out of armoires like the Marx Brothers, but tremendous gravity, too. It's worth trekking to BAM for.

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