Monday, February 25, 2013

All's Well That Ends Well

We had a busy weekend.  Saturday, we went to the Mall of America to use up two Nick Amusement Park ride bracelets that my mother had gotten as part of her holiday shopping.  There was only a week left to use them - less as the month ends early - so we didn't have time left to find a friend to go with Eryn.  Instead, it was up to me to ride all the rides.  Once upon a time, this wouldn't have been so bad.  Now it involves giant rotating seats on enormous skateboards, flipping seats with joy sticks to old them perpetually upside down, and the various rides that plunge and twirl.  I was feeling a bit uneasy in the stomach by the time we were done, and it wasn't because of the overwhelming smell of rancid seafood we'd been subjected to in the ramp on the way in.

Sunday we went to Republic in Dinkytown for brunch (excellent hanger steak) to use a coupon Theatre in the Round had provided with our flex tickets.  Good plan on Republic's part, as we obviously used the incentive before the play.  I didn't realize how long it had been since I'd really watched a lot of Shakespeare, so it entirely slipped my mind that we were in for 3.5 hours of play.  While definitely not my favorite play, it was enjoyable.  Eryn liked the parts that were grown up, with Lavatch the clown making rude thrusting and hand gestures, and Parolles extolling at some length about how Helena's virginity was a waste. Eryn commented that Parolles was the easiest character to understand, likely because his character, who seemed to be some pervier, more obnoxious, evil, version of Percy from BlackAdder, had shorter lines and much more facial and body language than the other characters.  Helena, who looked and sounded like Katie Holmes, was good, although sort of whiny overall.  And it was impossible to believe that despite tricking her husband, Bertram, into giving her proof of marriage and getting her pregnant, she'd want anything to do with such a turd.  Wikipedia says the exact same thing: "Helena's love for the seemingly unlovable Bertram is difficult to explain on the page."  When my wife called out how unbelievable it was that anyone would stay with Bertram, it kicked my old Shakespeare/Boccacio brain cells into use, and I said if it wasn't that they were supposed to be somewhat attracted to each other the whole time - playful in the beginning and touching heads later - it was probably the idea that a clever woman, or clever behavior, could make him have a bit of an epiphany that made him love her, at least in early modern magical thinking (and particularly in the spirit of the Decameron).  I was excited to see Wikipedia agreed: "Some suggest that Bertram's conversion is meant to be sudden and magical in keeping with the 'clever wench performing tasks to win an unwilling higher born husband' theme of the play."

It's probably also why there's a lengthy scene where the soldiers trick Parolles into confessing to all his obnoxious opinions about others and his own behavior.  To offset the clever women duping men, you have to have equally clever men duping men so there's no suspicion women have the upper hand overall.

What I was reminded of, more than anything, was that I shouldn't avoid my old habit of reading the play before I attend the play.  It's easier to pay attention to the intricacies of the language if you don't have to pay quite as much attention to the ebb and flow of the plot.  And despite the bawdy parts, it was fun to take Eryn to her first Shakespeare.

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