Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Was that Romeo and Juliet?

Does it make it harder to slag something off if you were given free tickets to opening night? This year’s production of Romeo and Juliet for Maynardville is an absolute disgrace. I have been wondering whether director Fred Abrahamse has been dishing out other more explicit freebies to the press, who have issued their usual brown nosing trash, supporting a worse than mediocre affair.

I love the idea of Maynardville. Off to an open air production of Shakespeare in a magnificent garden setting.

This year’s offering is not my favourite Shakespeare. I’ve always found it difficult to muster up any enthusiasm or sympathy for the teenage ‘star-crossed’ lovers. They are the leads of a pretty dreary lot, where only the nurse has any fun or filth. None the less, Baz Lerman’s movie version was spunky enough, and Maynardville usually offers up an interesting interpretation.

Oy vey, not this time. The gory details. Let me state at the outset that the first half was punishment enough and Big Friendly (my husband) and I ran away at interval. So we did NOT see the second half. I have asked, and nobody I know said it got any better. (Although I must appologise to Vaneshran Arumugam. His character did not speak at all in the first half; all his lines were all in the second part. I have seen him do Shakespeare and other classical stuff before and I know how good he is. So wasted in this dismal little affair.)

The performances were pretty bad. Jason Ralph and Guy Delancey were, for me, the best of a bad bunch. The best part of Romeo was his mullet. The worst was the complete lack of anything between him and old Juliet. Not that I blame him. She was a gawky, Joburg cherrie, with zero sex appeal and dressed like a dead bird. Poor Lady Capulet (Bo Petersen; a fine actress in my opinion) was dressed like a drag queen at the Rio carnival. What was with the costume with pink pubic hair? Anthea Thompsonn managed to do a brilliant impersonation of her good friend Robyn Scott while playing the nurse. She was dressed like Frida Khalo’s granny – I don’t know why. At least she could smoke cigarettes on stage, which was probably the most fun anyone had on stage (or off) all night.

Then there was the issue of Shakespeare, which nobody (save Guy Delancey) managed to speak. I know the story – but I didn’t understand anything anyone said. And a note to the ‘matriarch’. Speaking loudly, with lots of spitting and pronunciation is NOT speaking Shakespeare!

Now to the set: Huge ‘stone’ faux kinda Mexican? pillar thinggys which were spun around to some Spanish music in blackouts to denote scene changes. Why? They weren’t any different on the other side. Weird.

As we were hurrying to the car, with eyes downturned and fully focused on making our escape, Big Friendly said, “Please don’t make me come to Maynardville again.” And that is probably more telling than anything I’ve said here.

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11 Comments

  1. Jaci

    Brilliant Meggie Meg. I had such a laugh. I can just imagine the ‘Production’!!!!!
    Maynardville needs a creative revamp – when are they going to let a new director loose to try something new and amazing! I like looking inside Meaganshead!!

  2. Simon Cooper

    Nothing to do with Willem Wikkelspier but from all I hear that’s good as far as this one is concerned – haven’t heard one comment.
    Welcome the ferocious Megan. Another forum very welcome. We need some straight talking in this industry. Go for it.

  3. Luke

    Having recently been subjected to the directors attempt called Bangboek Mountain and also starring said Romeo – I have been far too ‘bang’ to take put on my broeks and head for one of my annual treats: The Maynardville Shakespeare. Reading your comments here and from what I have heard from others I guess a picnic watching the sun set will be far more entertaining. This is a calamity for Capetown. That such a calendar highlight and tourist attraction is not top class is very damning for the arts and the people of Capetown.

  4. megan

    good to see you here Luke

  5. The Saint

    You are not alone – Brent Meersman blog on this is worth reading – http://blogspace.mweb.co.za/site/alias__art/17482/default.aspx – then go to the bottom and click on Jan 2007 and then open the R&J story. I don’t think he likes it either

  6. Graham

    didnt bother about the sports stuff as I dont care but loved the theatre stuff. You should get a position with one of the papers. generous when someone is good, cruel when they dont crack it and funny, loved the bit about Anthea playing RS.

  7. Uber_Controller

    I was also at opening night, and the most fun I had was at the after party (yowzer!). In the show’s defence, I enjoyed the lack of sentimentality (for some of the point of R&J is that lust does not equal love, and that the star crossed lovers designed their own demise by impulsively rushing into a controversial affair – for the sake of controversy), the homoerotic undertones, and Guy de Lancey’s performance as Capulet (his Shakespeare-speak was perfect, his character was thoughtful and *funny*, and I ‘bought’ him). But the ever-important ending fell completely flat – the death scenes were empty and uninspiring, and my favourite line – so important to the theme (“ALL are punish-ed”) – was almost completely missing. There’s my 2c worth.

  8. Jason

    I made a point of attending on opening night, actually computicket stuffed up and after a few confusing phone calls, I eventually got it bumped up to the correct evening. Why didn’t they open on the night as originally advertised?

    This is also an annual activity that I look foward to every year and having had no previous experience with Romeo & Juliet, I found it to be a rather good production. Surprising that a few of the previous years cast were not included, but good to see the new faces too.

    I dont think that this type of production should ever be “put down”. It just doesn’t deserve negative comments. If you think it was such a bad performance, why don’t you apply for a role in the next upcoming production? Clearly this cast was experienced. And considering that Megans Head was based on her opinions of the success of opening night, couldnt she and her husband expect teething problems? Given, the price is a bit excessive for glitches to occur, but thats to be expected.

    I think the Matriarch did a brilliant job. “Pink pubic hair”, well, uhm, I’d say that adds to the Cape Flavour and modernization of bringing The Bard into the 21st century. If you were expecting 100% accuracy then you should’ve complained that there was a mixed-sex cast!

    Well done to all involved in this production! Keep up the good work. And I’ll definately be back next year!!

    PS: Where was the after party, and why wasn’t I told about it?

  9. megan

    Ok, Jason sweetie, whose boyfriend are you? No seriously though, everybody is allowed an opinion and I value yours. I just find bad theatre, especially Shakespeare, unforgiveable. It puts people off. Now, put on your theatre face and go and see Kissed By Brel, a production that needs nobody to make any excuses for it; despite opening night nerves.

  10. Richard

    I just came back from watching it and to be honest, I didn’t find it that bad. As far as the crudeness goes, I found the other ‘gestures’ pale into comparison with the mother and nurses advice to save her strength for the wedding night. I found it quite believable that young men running around with more lust then sense would behave that way. On the whole, I found it quite similar to Twelfth Night last year in that regard.

    One thing I did find confusing though was the LSD-enhanced trip to Tiger Tiger that Romeo seem to find himself in after interval. I must have missed the whole Mardi Gras reference in my original reading of the play.

  11. shirley

    Thank you for providing this forum.

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