Sunday, July 13, 2008

My summer of Elizabethan playwrights

I went to see my actor friend Bruce Barton perform in SIX HUSBANDS OF ELIZABETH THE QUEEN. I was bored out of my mind for most of the show, until the last fifteen minutes when Bruce, who had previously been the chorus, turns into William Shakespeare.

This is quite the summer - that's the second actor from my JANE EYRE cast who has portrayed a famous Elizabethan playwright this summer - Nat Cassidy portrayed Christopher Marlowe in his The Reckoning of Kit and Little Boots. KIT also had Shakespeare in it, although he's a bit of a doofus as written by Nat.

But even so - if you are an actor, you can't do better than being cast as Big Bill no matter how he is portrayed. As long as Shakespeare is on stage, the audience is saying to itself "William Shakespeare!" Ain't nobody else matter nearly as much in the scene, including Christopher Marlowe, or Queen Elizabeth, as in SIX HUSBANDS. I'd venture to say that the ONLY literary personage who could share the stage with Shakespeare and not have the scene completely stolen away is Oscar Wilde.

Martin Denton also disliked SIX HUSBANDS which surprises me - usually I completely disagree with Denton, and feel that as a general rule he, like most theater critics, cannot discern shit from Shinola.

I have to wonder why the author thought it would be a good idea to write the entire play in Shakespearean sonnet form. I've written plays with rhyming verse, and I've written sonnets, but I would never attempt an entire play in sonnet form.

Rhyming wasn't the main problem with SIX HUSBANDS, but I'm sure it contributed to the main problem, which was the lack of emotional resonance. Nowhere close to an emotional orgasm. Which, considering there are six husbands is a pretty bad record. Well, technically there were only four husbands, but that's still a huge strike-out percentage.

But Bruce was great, as he always is. And he looks quite dashing in a beard.