Almost LIVE !

Posted by: Barbara

Almost LIVE ! - 08/10/11 07:47 PM

A new and possibly unused topic, prompted by a promotional blurb shown at a local theater promising Broadway shows to come. Unfortunately, the sound was not working, so I don't know if they'll be live transmissions or digital recordings. All that the screen showed was a series of actors' faces that flashed by too fast to be recognized, punctuated by the word BROADWAY! in huge letters every five seconds. All I can say for certain is that something is coming.

Also, I wanted to post something about The Globe's productions, and the fact that I saw Henry IV, Part 1 in a movie theater doesn't make it a movie. It's a recording of a stage production. Almost live. So, on to Henry...
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Almost LIVE ! - 08/10/11 07:52 PM

I had mixed feelings about The Globe's Henry IV, Part 1, but mostly I enjoyed it. Frankly, with a few exceptions, the acting was not all that good. King Henry, for instance, was not at all kingly. Light voice, loose body movements, monotone authority, no dignity; he came across as just a ranting old man. Prince Hal and Hotspur were played by two puppies who yipped their lines while bouncing around the stage like a couple of hyperkinetic kids. They were both obviously of the school of thought that if you say your lines fast enough, the audience will never know it's poetry. The women, in their tiny roles, gave high-schoolish performances.

But there were two outstanding performances, not coincidentally given by the two actors with the best voices. One, of course, was Falstaff, played by Roger Allam, a man completely comfortable in the role. Part of his performance was schtick (director-instructed, I suspect), but Allam's sense of comic timing carried it off beautifully. At times you could see him working the audience, but he did it with such panache that you didn't mind at all. The scene following the robbery was hilarious, real laugh-out-loud funny. That scene alone was worth the price of a ticket. This was Allam's play; all those royals and other people were just incidentals.

The other outstanding performance was given by William Gaunt in the role of Worcester. Beautiful, resonant voice, and Gaunt delivered his lines as if they actually had some meaning. I wish he had been cast as Henry.

It was an unbalanced production; clearly more attention had been given to the comic scenes than to the serious ones. Perhaps that's necessary, with this play; Falstaff plays funnier than he reads. But the serious scenes should be something more than just waiting periods until Falstaff comes back.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing how they all do in Part 2.

[This message has been edited by Barbara (edited 08-11-2011).]
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Almost LIVE ! - 08/11/11 03:58 PM

I've never heard of Roger Allam, but he must have been around for a while to give a performance like that. Hm, I guess I'll be going to Part 2.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Almost LIVE ! - 08/11/11 04:52 PM

He was the Queen's private secretary in (you guessed it!) The Queen and a supercilious author and philanderer who got his come-uppance in Tamara Drewe. Plus various roles on TV in Britain.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Almost LIVE ! - 08/12/11 08:51 AM

I'm wishing now I'd gone. I've never seen a production of this two-part play, and I'm sure that must be the reason I've never found Falstaff funny. Just didn't see it.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Almost LIVE ! - 08/12/11 09:42 AM

Oh, thank goodness! I thought I was the only one who didn't think Falstaff was funny.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Almost LIVE ! - 08/12/11 11:42 AM

Falstaff isn't all that funny. He's bombastic, he's a coward, he's drunk most of the time... but in HIV Part 2 he becomes rather pathetic and is eventually humiliated (to the extent that even he can understand). There's something of this in Verdi's opera, except that it ends on an upbeat note. But Shakespeare makes him die offstage in HV and it always brings a lump to my throat.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Almost LIVE ! - 08/13/11 04:19 PM

In the very first act of Part 1, Hal says:
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wonder'd at,
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
Henry IV isn't about a young prince maturing into a king, as I've often heard claimed; Hal had his plan in place right from the very start.
So, when this loose behavior I throw off
And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men's hopes;
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glittering o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I'll so offend, to make offence a skill;
Redeeming time when men think least I will.
Hal is using Falstaff, using him to make himself look better. Falstaff is being set up; he's the "sullen ground" that will make Hal's "bright metal" shine even brighter. That makes Hal sly, conniving, and manipulative. I think we're meant to be amused by Hal's cleverness instead of taking it all too seriously, but I would never buy a used car from him.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Almost LIVE ! - 08/14/11 12:25 PM

Could he just be making excuses? Like, "I'm having too much fun to stop now, but I'll make up for it later?"
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Almost LIVE ! - 08/14/11 02:59 PM

Ha! Yes, I suppose it could be that.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Almost LIVE ! - 08/14/11 10:51 PM

And then evolves into the "Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more..." King of Henry V...I've always had a hard time reconciling Prince Hal with God for Harry, England, and St. George.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Almost LIVE ! - 08/14/11 10:57 PM

As for became necessary for Shakespeare to pen an epilogue disavowing any resenblence between the Fat Knight and one Sir John Oldcastle, who apparently WAS young Hal's coach and companion AND a leader of an early protestant sect, the Lollards...who pitched a fit over the representation of him as a drunken womanizer.

Oldcastle later led a rebellion against Henry V...and died a most gruesome death because of it..."hanged and burnt hanging" is the way it is described.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Almost LIVE ! - 08/14/11 11:42 PM

In that part Barbara quoted, it doesn't sound like excuse-making. It sounds like A Man With A Plan...a pretty sleazy plan, but still a plan. Take that speech out of the play, and, well, everything changes.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Almost LIVE ! - 08/16/11 03:19 PM

Yes, it certainly does! Shakespeare wanted us to know right from the start that Hal isn't as dissolute as his companions; otherwise we'd lose sympathy for him rather quickly. It's the same reason Falstaff is given so many unpleasant qualities, to distance him, to make his rejection and death more tolerable (except that it doesn't quite work for Andrew!). Also, without knowing what Hal was up to, the audience would find his transformation from Bad Boy to Good King too unmotivated to be credible.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Almost LIVE ! - 08/19/11 06:44 PM

Well, the Hal was much better in Part 2; not nearly so yippy. But Hal the character is still worrying about appearances; he doesn't want to make a public show of mourning his father's death because people will think he's hypocritical. The Pistol was terrible; the less said about him, the better. But William Gaunt was back, this time playing Shallow, and now I understand why he wasn't cast as Henry: his Shallow is just too good to be missed. What that man can do with his voice is remarkable, and the recruiting scene was hilarious. Roger Allam yielded stage to him; there was no competing for attention between them. In fact, Allam took a step back in his entire performance. Part 1 was his play; in Part 2 he was one figure in the tapestry. And that's as it should be.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Almost LIVE ! - 08/20/11 01:43 PM

Oh damn, that was this week! I guess I need to start writing EVERYTHING down.