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Original Practices

I saw the Globe Theatre Company of London perform "Twelfth Night" yesterday, using original practices. And by "original practices," of course, I mean men in drag playing the parts of the female characters. This was standard in the 1600s when the plays were first performed, and I guess I was expecting something like drag queens. I was wrong. The gender-bending worked to the play's advantage; the actor playing Olivia showed a young woman in love rather amusingly and more convincingly than I thought was possible. It wasn't about falsettos and heavy makeup -- it was posture, gesture, costuming, and smaller vocal tricks. Eventually I stopped noticing it altogether.

I had fully expected the whole thing to be a throwback, like a eunuch taking the stage to sing Italian opera. The production added a new layer of amusement to some of the women-pretending-to-be-men scenes, since they became men-pretending-to-be-women-pretending-to-be-men. Much credit goes to Mark Rylance — the director who also played the part of Olivia — as well as to Michael Brown as Viola and (less of a stretch) Peter Shorey as Maria, the old battleax of a scheming servant. The addition of period instruments (go sackbut go!) and better-than-average integration of music into the performance helps as well.

Next time you're in London, or if you are lucky enough to live on their tour cities, do go see this production. You won't regret it.


( 5 sutras — Your wisdom )
Dec. 2nd, 2003 02:11 am (UTC)
Burning with Envy
I saw Rylance there as Hamlet a few years back, and it was a terrific show. They even did the jig after everybody dies!

I'd read some good press on this production, and I'm glad to hear you liked it so well. Send your poor deprived friends in Seattle a postcard.
Dec. 2nd, 2003 02:47 pm (UTC)
"Next time I'm in London" I'll be sure to remember that (insert rolling of eyes here). =)

It does sound fun, though. One of our profs has an article on her door about this company. The costumes look amazing.
Dec. 2nd, 2003 03:23 pm (UTC)
Didn't mean that to sound quite as snobbish as it may sound. I've got a couple of Brits who read the LJ, so that was directed at them more than anything.
Dec. 2nd, 2003 03:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, no offense taken. It was just a funny thing to read as I sit here at my desk in BFE Kansas. =) And what, you mean there are people on this planet who live outside of this Great Country??? Gee who'da thunk?
Dec. 2nd, 2003 03:40 pm (UTC)
Sounds like amazing stuff. I'm delighted for you and rather envious. can't wait for a trip report!
( 5 sutras — Your wisdom )

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