Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A spinny stage doth not a good production make

Let me second J's comments about events at the Met last night. I thought Vargas delivered the goods, but for the most part he was the only enjoyable voice onstage. O'Flynn wasn't unpleasant to listen to, and less so as the evening went on, but her voice has a creeping shrillness, and she resolutely refused to sing through her lines to any appreciable effect. Shout outs to Tybalt, Stephano, and the Nurse, for at least raising the bar for the secondary cast.

The staging was clumsy overall and one couldn't shake the feeling that the director was counting on the spinny stage to hide the fact--one example being the attempt at wit and cutesiness in the lovers' scenes in Acts I&II that mostly fell flat. The exceptions were legitimately well-choreographed fight scenes. Here and only here did you really get the sense that the characters had a good idea about where they should be going.

The set was a textbook example of building a concept before you think it all the way through. "Spacey Gallileoness" is a theme for a bar mitzvah, not a piece of theatre. As J said on the subway afterwards, it's not like they are actually in space. It's a little alarming, as one could imagine this kind of shallow compromise emerging again from the tension between not wanting to do another straight-up production while being unwilling to do too something too far out. The designers know they want something A) elegant n' pretty cuz we're not in the business of offending; B) that at least references elements of the actual setting; but C) doesn't have to be so literal. It may sound like a strategy, but without a clear vision it just adds up to theatrical mush.

The flying bed, however, was freaking cool.

Update: Says Sieglinde: "...so amorphous it was like watching a Greyhound bus trip unfold."

Later update: JSU thinks it was just an off night, remains optimistic. Flying bed/stars cool, but possibly played out.

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