The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1260 Tuesday, 13 July 1999.
Date: Sunday, 11 Jul 1999 15:59:03 -0400
Subject: 10.1235 Antony and Cleopatra in New Orleans
Comment: Re: SHK 10.1235 Antony and Cleopatra in New Orleans
>How about a report about the Edward III that was
>being performed in Cleveland?
It is my firm judgment after seeing the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival's
Ed3 that the manifest weaknesses of the play (especially the lack of
connection between the first two and last three acts and the fact that
in the second half everything important happens off stage) mean that
only a production that can prop up the textual weaknesses with strong
acting and effective spectacle will produce an acceptable theatrical
experience. With all due respect to Tim Perfect, a member of this list
and somebody whose enterprise I want to encourage, the CLSF production
was not solid, even allowing for the fact that the performance I saw had
to be moved from its usual outdoor venue indoors on account of rain.
Most particularly, the affectations of speech and movement of John Lynch
as Edward that had made him an adequate Pistol turned out to be his
basic acting style, not things adopted for the bombastic miles
gloriosus. They were totally inappropriate for Edward, especially in
the wooing scenes, which the editorial consensus has assigned to our
author and the critical consensus has identified as the best material in
the play-a pity given the strong performance of Erin Myers as the
Countess. Reducing an already buffoonish King of Scots to a caricatured
hillbilly (Alan Branstein) robbed the opening of such scanty dramatic
conflict as it has in the text, and while a readiness to indicate the
difference between English and French soldiers entirely by giving red
armbands to former and blue to the latter may arise from a creditable
belief in the power of the imagination it came across as tacky in a
context where the imagination was already being asked to work overtime.
Even with cuts deep enough that the production ran only about 90 minutes
we were squirming on our hard seats long before it had reached its end.
The play offers interesting anticipations of H5 and Ant, but not many
who saw this version came away certain that it belongs in the canon.