The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1756  Monday, 27 September 2004

From:           Richard Burt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 26 Sep 2004 12:21:20 -0400
Subject:        A Shakespearean Blood Bath of Cabbages and Kings

A Shakespearean Blood Bath of Cabbages and Kings

September 21, 2004

The spooky sound of metal scraping metal signals from the start that
"Rose Rage," at the Duke on 42nd Street, is not, as you might imagine, a
comedy about dueling florists or a sweet tale of backyard botanists
squabbling over a contested variety. It's a hefty slab of Shakespeare:
all three parts of "Henry VI," in fact, trimmed of fat and put through a
meat grinder, then garnished with generous doses of directorial panache.
A freshly sharpened cleaver, not a dagger or a sword, is the weapon of
choice in Edward Hall's flashy, eminently accessible production, which
presents 15th-century England as a slaughterhouse doing big business,
where even the most privileged men are fated to become meat primed for
the butcher block.

The cheeky title alludes to the Wars of the Roses, the bloody battle for
England's throne that unfolds with variable theatrical effectiveness -
and scant attention to chronological accuracy - in the "Henry VI"
trilogy. The irreverence of Mr. Hall's production merely begins with the
bold stroke of scribbling a new title atop these early, little-loved and
rarely seen plays. (In taking that particular liberty he is following
the lead of his father, the eminent British director Peter Hall: In 1963
the senior Mr. Hall staged a version of the trilogy, along with Richard
III, under the title "The Wars of the Roses.")

The younger Mr. Hall, aided by Roger Warren, has drastically slashed the
original texts. The three plays are compressed into less than four hours
of stage time, about the allotment for a full-length "Hamlet." (With a
generous dinner break and two intermissions, "Rose Rage" requires about
five and a half hours.)

[ . . . ]


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