Saturday, October 3, 2009

Jason watches TEMPESTOUS(NESS) or HIStory is Told by the Victors

Wait, two nights in a row I went up to the city for live theatre? This is supposed to be a blog about movies. Whatever, I'm sure I'll get back to movies soon enough.

Anyway, Performers Under Stress put on this inspection/re-imagining of Bill Shakespeare's "The Tempest" (oh yeah, I actually read "The Tempest" before the show, but no need, it starts with a quick synopsis to get you up to speed). The main issue--where is Sycorax, the "witch" who ruled the island of "The Tempest" before Prospero? And so playwright Scott Baker imagines not just a back story for Sycorax, but a back story for why Shakespeare left her out of the story. His supposition: Shakespeare initially intended her as an homage to the "dark lady" of his sonnets, but when she broke his heart he wrote her out and left just one monologue describing her as a witch. As for Sycorax's back-story, rather than an Algerian witch, he makes her a Patagonian victim of Spanish Conquistadores. She's just looking to get home, but along the way picks up some magic, saves Algiers from a Spanish seige (by sneaking a powerful laxative to the Spanish army), becomes a single mother (through the help of her God Setebos), and ends up ruling an island. That is, until deposed duke and tiresome windbag Prospero arrives and fucks everything up for her.

The play is funny and brisk. 90 minutes without an intermission and barely a gasp for air. I don't remember the final scene count, but I believe it was close to 30. And it was pretty effortless at blending high-falutin' humor (Shakespeare, of course) with the low-falutin' (jokes about a eunuch's missing balls or "The Song of the Shitting Spaniards"). And anyone who can mix the high-falutin' and the low-falutin' that well deserves a select cult following that includes me.

Oh yeah, and tonight (October 3rd) is their last show, so go see it. Tickets are only $10, and you can get a beer or wine there for $3. Info here.

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