Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 202. Wednesday, 28 Aug 1991.
Date: Sun, 25 Aug 91 17:22:07 EST
Subject: Shakespeare in San Diego.
Steven Urkowitz inspires me to comment on two plays I just saw in late July.
The first is a marvelous romp by Lee Blessing called FORTINBRAS. The play
begins with Horatio's last speech and Fortinbras entering, using contemporary
English with a very jarring, "Hi!" But it's a witty play. It centers on
"getting the story straight." Fortinbras, true politician, says no one will
believe Horatio's story so a new one must be invented. A Polish spy, he
reasons, infiltrating the court while he is in the field, caused all the
problem. They invent the spy--it turns out to be Osric, the real surprise
of the play. Ophelia and Hamlet (first locked in a TV) come back as ghosts
--as do Polonius, Gertrude, and Claudius. All this is widly funny and
reminiscent of a Dan Quayle takeover possibility. It was at the La Jolla
Playhouse on the UC San Diego campus. Look for it elsewhere.
Then, San Diego's Old Globe did a flaccid and somewhat inaudible (air traffic)
outdoor THE MERCHANT OF VENICE with Hal Holbrook. The program contained
numerous disclaimers from various antidefamation leagues. It is not often
one sees the play, so I was grateful for the chance. However, most of the
audience seemed worn out with the garbled lines. The vague modernisation in
staging was not terribly effective. Portia was well done.