One of the local movie places in town is doing this newish thing, well, it's new to me, though it looks like they've been doing some sorts of this stuff for a while now. What they do is offer something different on one or two weeknights, on occasion. The different seems mostly to be some cultural stuff, opera, ballet, stuff we don't generally have much access to out here in flyover land.
But I went last night because they're showing a couple of the productions from the Globe Theatre in London, and I heard about it, and so I went. It turns out they'd done the first one (All's Well) a couple of weeks ago, so this one is the second. And it was Much Ado. (And Faustus is coming soon! It's the 2011 season, the one where I saw All's Well and Faustus at the Globe.)
This town's pretty, well, erm, not exactly high culture oriented. If it were a local high school sports team on film, the theater would have been packed. As it was, I walked in, and the ticket booth was closed with a sign on it saying to go right to the concessions area. At the concessions area, the young women behind the counter had to look up to make sure what they were showing, though she was happy to sell me a ticket once she found it. (The ticket was $12.50, which is actually, I think, more than a standing ticket at the Globe runs. It may not seem steep to folks with city salaries, but around here, that's steep.)
As I was walking towards the theater, a guy stopped me and asked if I were going, and when I said yes, told me he would start it about five minutes late because there were no intro commercials. That was fine with me. I took the opportunity to ask him about the Globe thing, and he showed me all about the operas and ballets and all, and I told him I teach Shakespeare at the university, and if I knew what they'd have access to in advance, I'd think about teaching the plays and try to get students to see them. So we exchanged contact information, and on I went.
Let's just say, I didn't have to fight anyone for a seat. Not anyone. I was alone. (Three more women came in after the film was running about five minutes.)
I was really hoping that the film would catch the feel of the playing space, and it did a little, but not as much as I'd hoped. I think it would work better for my students who haven't experienced the playing space itself than it did for me. I had high expectations.
Much Ado. It's a hard play, not as hard as, say, Measure for Measure, but hard. There has to be something, some chemistry or something that makes you (as an audience member in the 21st century) buy that Hero and Claudio could be even a little okay as a married couple. For me, in playing, that depends on a couple things: The way they show the initial relationship "developing," Claudio's rejection and how intense that is, and how they play the reveal and Claudio's reaction. In a way, then, a lot depends on Claudio.
This production didn't do it for me. The end felt flat.
Partly, I reacted strongly to the way they played the rejection scene, with Claudio being pretty physically violent. He was violent again in the Leonato/Antonio challenge scene, pushing Leonato over.
And then at the end, he didn't convince me that anything had really changed about him. I left feeling like he'd be a wive abuser.
Benedick and Beatrice were fine, but not stellar, and didn't get across to me a sense of real pleasure, either. And the dance felt choreographed and just there, rather than anything like an expression of spontaneous joy.
In a couple of weeks, they'll show Faustus, and I'll pay my $12.50, and it should be interesting because I saw the production in London. (And I wrote a bit about how much I liked it!)
But I don't think I'll go back to see Much Ado again next week.