Monday, July 25, 2016

Sunday - Movin' On Up

I checked out of Founder's Hall in the morning and hauled myself and my stuff up to Midtown.  I rented an apartment for myself through AirBnB, and I was really looking forward to a non-shared place with a kitchen.

After unpacking, I headed to the nearest grocery store, was appalled to find cereal costing $6 a box, and got the bare necessities, reminding myself that it's still cheaper than eating out for every meal.

I spent the afternoon in Soho, exchanging a dress I got in May and walking around the Sunday afternoon bustle, then back to the apartment to take a cold shower and change for the theater.

Lincoln Center's Summer Festival is going on, and my first show with them is a production of "Merchant of Venice" from the Globe.

The show was at the Rose Theater at Colombus Circle, a venue I hadn't been to before.  It's actually attached to a high-end mall, and it was a little strange to walk past clothing stores to take an elevator to the seventh floor for the balcony section.  I arrived early to pick up my ticket from the box office, grabbed a slice of pizza from a shop on the corner, and settled into my center-but-total-nosebleed seat.

The show was fine.  The more I see of their work, the more I recognize the Globe's distinct acting style.  It's hard to explain - classical, with a certain vocal cadence, I guess.  The set was gorgeous and the lighting made good use of the cut-out Moroccan-style wall that made up the backdrop.  Jonathan Pryce was by far the best at delivering his lines - he was surprisingly skilled at articulation and delivering the lines with clear meaning and understanding.  The actor who played Lancelot Gobo was very well cast and did an excellent job on his "fiend/conscience" scene, mixing well improv with the scripted lines.

Aside from that, the show was unremarkable.  It played up the tragedy of Shylock's forced conversion, ending with him sobbing through his heavily-Catholic baptism ceremony.  They didn't shy away from the racism of the time, and played up Portia's bias most of all.  I haven't seen that choice before - she's usually played so likeably that her prejudice is buried under her cleverness.  Here, though, her scorn for Jessica and the pleasure she took at punishing Shylock in the court scene were obvious.

The production we saw last summer in Stratford was much better - more nuanced and interesting. 

Also, the suitor from Arragon did not have a Pomeranian; tight-shirted, muscular attendants; or a guitar accompaniment.  I find every production that does not have those things in it sorely lacking.

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