Ivy: “We’re all just people, some of us accidentally connected by genetics, a random selection of cells. Nothing more.”
Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County, which won the Tony for Best Play in 2008, is currently playing at Boston’s Colonial Theatre. The play centers around the Weston family, who come together when their patriarch, Beverly, goes missing. The matriarch, Violet, is played by Estelle Parsons (who is 82 years old, please note) and she is fantastic. Violet is addicted to prescription drugs and is barely coherent in several scenes, slurring her words and stumbling around the house. A two-story staircase is the focus of the set, and Violet barrels her way down in the classic move that everyone has tried when they’re inebriated; she’s on the verge of losing complete control of her limbs, but if she just moves fast enough, maybe she’ll make it to the bottom in one piece. Actually, that’s a great way to think of every character in this play.
This show is around 3 hours, 30 minutes (with two intermissions). It’s dark and vicious and extremely funny. The entire cast is wonderful. Do yourself a favor and see it, because it’s only here until Sunday. Tickets are available through ArtsBoston.
The 2010 Tony Award nominations were announced this morning. Quick thoughts:
It’s nice to see a female playwright get a nomination for Best Play (Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play).
I’m a little surprised that Kristin Chenoweth didn’t get a nod for Promises, Promises despite the fact that I haven’t seen her performance.
Lots of Hollywood folks got nominations: Jude Law, Alfred Molina, Liev Schreiber, Christopher Walken, Denzel Washington, Laura Linney, Kelsey Grammer, Sean Hayes, Catherine Zeta-Jones, David Alan Grier, Angela Lansbury, Scarlett Johansson. Actually, every actor in the Best Leading Actor in a Play category is a celebrity. Huh.
Mudlark and the Royal Shakespeare Company have joined forces to present Such Tweet Sorrow, a modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet that takes place in real time on Twitter. Actors are given a scripted outline and character diaries, and they generate original tweets based on what the character would be thinking or feeling at any given moment.
I assume that the goal of this project is to use social media to attract younger audiences, and I applaud them for that. If students become interested in Shakespeare after seeing these tweets and pick up a copy of Romeo and Juliet or make an effort to go to the theater, that’s a wonderful thing. However, because the actors are not using the original text and they’re dealing with the 14o character limit on Twitter, we end up with tweets like this: “Just seen Jules’ vid. She’s too worried; too young. I want there 2b things 4her 2 look 4ward to. Time 4me 2plan the best 16th Birthday ever!” I can barely even read that sentence, but then again, I’m not the target audience.
My main issue with this project is the decision to change some of the history and relationships between the characters. In the original text, the Capulets and the Montagues have been feuding for generations; it’s not even really clear why they hate each other so much, and I don’t think the characters truly understand it anymore either. They continue the feud because it’s what they know, and there’s a stubborn sense of pride that will eventually make the conclusion of the play all the more tragic. In Such Tweet Sorrow, the feud begins in 2000 when Montague causes a car accident that kills Lady Capulet. In this version, Tybalt is Juliet’s brother and the Nurse is actually her older sister, and they are stuck with an awful stepmother when Capulet remarries. Is any of that really necessary? I am always in favor of the adaptation of classic plays, but why change something that’s already great if you can’t make it better? This project would have worked just as well had they kept to the original structure.