So I saw Twelfth Night
at the Delacorte last night. I'd been planning to go with Griffin (my plan being to try to get tickets during previews, especially with what I expect will be a hot ticket like this one) but he forgot and had to work on Wednesday so I texted Lori to see if she wanted the other ticket. Yesterday was drizzling and quite grim in the morning and I almost decided not to go wait on line, but I figured I was up, I might as well. Waited on line for 3 and a half hours--I had to spread out my umbrella on the wet ground since I'd forgotten to bring a chair or blanket or something.
I'd brought a book, Connie Willis's Doomsday Book
(which I'm rereading) and mostly passed time that way and checking Facebook. The Public is obviously trying to improve the line experience--they have a new food concessionaire which is also open during the day, so you can just walk up there to get something to eat. (It used to be that you could only get food by ordering from the cafes and delis near the theater.) The new concessionaire is MUCH better than the one they used to have, which was mostly ice cream novelties, brownies/cookies and sodas. This new one has really good coffee (Illy coffee
, which is excellent), wine and beer, sandwiches, breakfast foods, salads, etc. For breakfast I decided to get coffee, a whoopie pie (what?), and "Market berries with sour cream and brown sugar." YUM. Not only is the food good, but you don't even have to walk up to the window--if you're willing to wait, eventually someone will come around and take your order while you're on line. And they even take credit cards! How awesome is that?!
So I scored my two tickets and danced away. I just love free summer theater, it's one of those things that makes city life so great. Lori met me after work and we went over together, getting a yummy little meal, including two glasses of prosecco, which we were allowed to eat at our seats.
This production of Twelfth Night
looks as though it's going to be quite good--it was the first preview so it's settling into place still. Most of the principals are quite strong, with Hamish Linklater stealing the show completely as Sir Andrew. He is HILARIOUS, every time he opens his mouth people were dying of laughter. Anne Hathaway is good, but not yet great as Viola, but the basic work is there, she just needs to settle into the role. I do think she and Audra (also very good) missed some of the poignancy and sweet epiphanies of their first scene together ("The honorable lady of the house, which is she?")--the willow cabin speech was just sort of barreled through, and I didn't see much vulnerability there, nor did I see much of a transformation in Olivia during the scene, from cold-hearted lady of the house to a woman infatuated. However, again, I think they just need time.
Getting back to Viola, Anne is playing her as a much more believable male than I did (which is of course fine). She actually could pass as a guy. My thinking was that I'm kind of thrown into trying to pass as a male, and there's a learning curve. (At one point during rehearsals, Ben gave me the note that when I first run over to Orsino on "On your attendance, my lord; here," that I was running "like a girl." I gave him a LOOK and he laughed and said "I know you can kick my ass" and I replied "That's a choice
! Believe me, I do NOT run like that normally!") I don't know that there's a need for Viola to be completely believable as a guy, because I think most people will believe what they're told until there's a very good reason to believe otherwise. And let's face it, Orsino is pretty oblivious. I also played Viola as much more--consciously light-hearted, as in I'm trying NOT to think about Sebastian and this grief that surrounds me, and as a result of this tension things strike me as much funnier. This came out the most in II, iv--I always loved that exchange between her and Orsino when she says "About your years, my lord" and "Of your complexion, my lord." I played it like I was about to burst out laughing--the lines are genuinely, of themselves, hilarious, and it's also my own private joke. Then the song "Come Away, Death" (in which they had first Orsino and then Viola join in--it was quite beautiful), and my mood changes completely, leading to the intense colloquy between O & V, culminating with...she pined in thought,
And with a green and yellow melancholy
She sat like patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed?
I didn't really see that intense undertone of I'm desperately hoping you will actually get what I'm really saying, and yet I'm afraid to disturb this delicate balance
. It was played more for laughs than anything, and there's so much
to mine there. And I think you do need to have that mood change in that scene--V & O actually have relatively little stage time together, so you have to compress their relationship. So something has to happen, has to change
in that scene.
I was a little disappointed with her rapport with Orsino, I don't know that I really saw that intense bond they have, the bond that makes II, iv, that big scene, throb with subtext, the bond that explodes into violence in the last scene. I thought Esparza was quite good as Orsino, I just didn't quite see that chemistry between them; in fact, after Sebastian and Viola meet in the last scene, they go off and hang out together, instead of her going right back to Orsino, like "see, everything is explained--now will you let me off the hook?" (Because even after Sebastian is revealed, she still doesn't know that Orsino loves her.) However, this was a much more overtly comic Twelfth Night
. I said to Lori--they've almost staged it as a fable, "once upon a time, in a land far away..." The whole feeling is pastoral and lyrical--the set is a bunch of grassy, green, waving hills that the characters slide down and dance across, and the Celtic, lilting music is very effectively and beautifully deployed (Anne sings several times, and sounds quite lovely). The whole feeling sort of distances you from the more adult, autumnal nuances of the text. This is of course completely appropriate, but I do love those nuances--I love the haunting qualities of this play, the undertone of melancholy and a pure love that is completely suppressed, and the mourning for a dead twin with that background of water, water. If you develop those qualities, it makes the ending truly joyous, rather than just a resolution.
I was disappointed in the Maria, I just don't think she brought much to the role. Toby was decent but not great. Again, I prefer a slightly more menacing Toby. Malvolio was also good but not great, IMO--frankly, I thought Tom was funnier. Frankly, though, I'm usually not that interested in the TN subplot--I'm always sort of twitching impatiently until we get back to Viola and Orsino and Olivia. But as I said, Sir Andrew was HI-LARIOUS. And I did like the Sebastian (he was dreaaaamy). I thought the fighting looked pretty good, but Lori (who trained at LAMDA) was more critical.