Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Theatre let-downs

I can't really tell if it is just my mood or if there is a strong consensus that recent theatre outings have been weaker in March than they were in Jan. and Feb.  I really didn't care for Soulpepper's Idomeneus and Bloom at Buddies wasn't much better.  In both cases, the playwright spent far too much time undermining any narrative flow by putting front and center the concept that stories are inherently unreliable* and that there is no "objective" position from which events can be observed (and that winners write history).  But this is such a worn-out trope (ancient even when done in Rashomon) and building an evening of theatre around it is unwise.  I could probably have put up with 60 minutes of this noodling around, but 75+ minutes in both cases was far too long.  Plus, the director of Idomeneus, after spending all this time in classical territory decided to end with Greek tavern music, as if trying to say that the current mess in Greece is just a continuation of these old battles.  Or somehow trying to tie it in with modern day concerns.  I really couldn't tell what was meant by this strange fusion of the past and present, but I felt it didn't work and cheapened the entire play.

I know it is early days (from the Schultz scandal) but given that Soulpepper seems to have decided to scrap all plays by Acykbourne (as Schultz was a big advocate) and that the directorial choices post-Schultz seem very off and that their summer season is so uninspired, I will probably be crossing them off my list.  It's a shame, as of the big theatre companies, I usually found them putting on the most theatre that actually interested me.  And of course, things may change, but from what I have read of the new acting artistic director's thoughts, the company seems to be want to be more "relevant," which is just another way of saying they want to put on more "woke" theatre, as if we didn't have enough of that already.

I am also deeply uninspired by Tarragon's upcoming season.  There isn't a single play there I have any interest in seeing.  I never subscribe to Canadian Stage (as I am estranged from the artistic director's vision of more spectacle, less drama), but I do sometimes find a single play or two to watch.  I have to admit that The Overcoat was very well done (and The Humans was great, living up to the hype in my view).  In the upcoming season, LePage's 887 is cool (though not worth it for me to go again) and I am leaning towards going to Bigre, which is a wordless comedy, supposedly in the tradition of Keaton and Tati.  I think I'm going to pass on Shakespeare in High Park this year as I just find it so uncomfortable sitting through an entire performance.  I reserve the right to change my mind of course.

It's possible that I just won't see much theatre next fall or just piece things together from the storefront theatres.  Maybe that isn't such a bad thing.  After the Fringe this summer, I may be kind of burned out on theatre, and perhaps it is best to refocus my attentions in different directions.  I've been told, fairly bluntly, that the kind of stories I want to tell just aren't dramatic enough for the stage, so maybe I really would just be better off sticking to short stories (and not having to deal with actors and their crazy schedules and what have you).

* That said, I don't believe there is a single Greek legend that even hints that Penelope was unfaithful, so adding this into the mix as just a footnote really, was an extremely jarring move by Schimmelpfennig, one that I did not appreciate at all.  Though that was still easier to swallow than these stories in the paper that the Soulpepper cast has a new appreciation for the horrors of war because of all they have been through lately.  No, just no.

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