Romeo and Juliet @ Circle In The O

Oh, dear reader!  What my eyes have seen!  That is, what my eyes have seen RECENTLY!

I have just returned home from a theatrical experience that has left me speechless – but thank the gods that it has not left me type-less.

I ask (rhetorically, of course) how often has it been that you have seen what you think that you would never see?  Once?  Twice?  More like never.  And yet we think that moment will definitely occur – like watching a full moon rise, or seeing a double rainbow (like that delightful man who cried on my computer – what bravery he had letting himself be set up for humiliation on the world wide web) or getting a decent table a Le Bernardin (try the oestra-sprinkled Spanish mackerel tartare, IF YOU DARE) on short notice.  Impossible.  But no.

Ari Emanuel, Bard of Avon, Broadway Manka,, Cal State Northridge, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Circle in the O Theater, Crown City Theatre, Hamlet, Haunted Alligators, jeff Weiner, Khan Manka, kryle lendhoffer, Le Bernardin, Manka Bros., Manka Classic Movies, Marlon Brando, MIT, Much Ado about Nothing, Paul Newman, pectoral muscles, Richard II, Richard III, Rome and Julie, Shakespeare, Taming of the Shrew, Tennessee Williams, Terry Semel, the actor's craft, theater reviews, Unicorn Theater, zachery tisdaleShakespeare has been performed in many ways in the thousands of years since the Bard of Avon took pen to paper and spilled his genius on the page.  Each of his miraculous plays has been performed hundreds, nay thousands, nay hundreds of thousands of times. 

I have seen “Midsummer’s” set at a high school in America during the 1950s; “Shrew” set in the Old West and; “Richard III” set in Hitler’s Germany (or Franco’s Spain, or Mussolini’s Italy – I get it, Dick was a fascist).  I’ve seen “Hamlet” in a black box theater with the cast in t-shirts and black jeans… “Much Ado About Nothing” in 18th century Spain… “The Tempest” in a hippie commune… “Richard II” in a bath house (with real steam!).

I thought I had seen it all.  Until last night.  Glorious, wonderful last night.

What made last night so glorious (and wonderful)?  The unexpected!  And what made THAT so brilliant is that I had no idea that it was coming.  The marquee read “Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare”.  I was sitting in the “Circle in the O – Presented by Manka Broadway”.  What would I see?  Our young, tragic lovers updated to New York, “West Side Story” style?  Or would they be of two different races on an alien planet?  Romeo from a Confederate and Juliet’s supporting the Union?  I quivered with anticipation.

And then it happened.

The curtain came up and I choked – LITERALLY CHOCKED in amazement – a beautiful set appeared – showing Verona as it was sometime in the 1590s!  And then the actors came on stage… dressed in the same period!

I couldn’t believe my eyes.  “Stop lying to me, eyes!”  I shouted at my eyeballs (in my mind).  What could the director be thinking?  Setting a Shakespearean play in the Elizabethan period – in the country the play was set in as seen through the eyes of a person from Elizabethan England?

I was stunned, my reality had been shattered.  Could this be?  After two hours traffic of the stage (well, three hours – Shakespeare must not have thought about how long it can take an American actor to get through his words – after all, America wasn’t invested until much, much later) I realized that this COULD be.  That this SHOULD be.

So, my extended theater family, are you ready to see what has never been done before?  Are you ready to have your mind stretched like so much taffy (which is dreadful and pulls out your dental work)?  Then make yourself ready to see Shakespeare set in a totally alien environment.  Where it was intended?

You will love it!

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