Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Nothing but curious pleasures

A certain BFC (aka big fat/fine cat aka my uncle Jon) asked about how I found Pericles etc, so here's the promised post.

I did finish reading Pericles. It's a bit like The Winter's Tale with added shipwrecks and no bears. I think I read it a little too fast to appreciate it properly. I'd like to see it performed. The structure's interesting - narration from Gower and dumbshows to show us what's going on. Most of the really dramatic action seems to take place in the dumbshows, except for the storm at sea in which Marina is born.

The main point of looking at Pericles for the seminar was the choices made in editing and we had a go at editing a bit of the beginning of 2.1, which was trickier than I thought, if you're going to worry about the placement of every jot and tittle as well as try to guess whether the apparent mistakes are due to misreadings, mishearings, uncertain spelling, archaic words or something else. I think my attitude would probably be to change as little as possible and work out the details in performance, repunctuating or substituting words as necessary to make sense of it. The way different editors differ over the placement of commas or the interpretation of ellisions sometimes seems a little far away from the text's first incarnation as a performance. But then, punctuation can make a huge difference to meaning, so it's not unimportant.

Yes, I did read all of Titus Andronicus, not just the fly-killing scene. It's a pretty gory piece of work. Again, I feel I need to see a production or two to appreciate it properly. I can't help wondering how things like "Enter the Empress' sons with LAVINIA, her hands cut off and her tongue cut out, and ravished" would be staged. The fly-killing scene (3.2) is a later addition to the play. I saw it as a private family scene, in contrast to the more public scenes that surround it. For some reason it my head it's like a scene from a film, very claustrophic and dark, with the Andronici gathered together, eating, because they need sustenance, comforting each other and gathering strength for their revenge. The camera plans along the table and flicks from face to face as they react to Titus's pouring out of his heart and attempted comfortings of Lavinia. The killing of the fly is like a summary of the entire play - "How if that fly had a father and a mother?" - that's the problem with killing people: their families generally want revenge and in this play that pits a father, Titus, and a mother, Tamora, against one another for revenge for their respective offspring. But of course "it was a black ill-favoured fly/ Like to the empress's Moor" so it had to die. There's the personal element of revenge and the tricky character of Aaron the Moor (also a father, in his own violent way). It's all wrapped up in those few lines. Hmm, perhaps I have more to say about Titus Andronicus than I thought?

And Cymbeline. I love Cymbeline! I really must read it. (And Jon, you MUST let me read your thesis). Yes, there were some bits that cut in the last production we saw that were included this time, notably the doctor with his suddenly remembered details, the comic jailers, Posthumous' family and Jupiter appearing from the heavens (actually appearing swathed in a giant silk parachute, rising out of the box which was the main consituent of the set. People found their costumes in it, props were taken out of and put into it, Iachimo hid in it, obviously. Actually I think it disappeared for a bit in Wales, which missed a few tricks, it could have been the cave, or the grave, or a boat, or cover for the battling armies.) Some other bits got missed out. Imogen's speech to the headless body of her (supposed) husband was even more truncated. It was a fun production, played for (even more) laughs than the Barbican production, with a wonderfully devious and scheming Queen. Although she did seem to go off her head rather too rapidly. Cloten began almost every one of his scenes by hurling his doublet to the ground and lived up to his name (definitely Clot-en).

On to this week. I'm currently supposed to be reading Dr Faustus, Mankind, extracts from Mediaeval morality plays and some scenes from Henry VI 3, King John and Macbeth. And it's pouring with rain and nothing could be nicer than curling up with some books and Radio 3.

ETA: I think part of the problem with the film of As You Like It were all the bits that got cut in the final scene, particularly Hymen (fair enough, no-one knows who Hymen is today anyway and what would she be doing in 19th Centuary Japan?), with some lines reassigned to Rosalind. Unfortunately they cut most of the 'If I were...would you then.." lines that explain how each character then reacts to the revelation of Ganymede's identity as Rosaline, so to have everyone suddenly understanding when she appeared dressed as herself again made very little sense. I don't think As You Like It makes that much sense to start with, but it's a comedy and believing in the character's rather unlikely deceptions is part of the fun.

1 comment:

Amrita said...

Saw the flick Keeping Mum last night...Rowan Atkinson was nice. It was OK...good old British humor.