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.