Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Theatre Junkies Anonymous Confession Time

I know it's very much in alternative culture vogue and also a bit in mainstream vogue to dislike Romeo and Juliet. I get it, I really do. Because in most productions of Romeo and Juliet, it's hard to get the audience to care about two kids who fall in love, seemingly on a whim, and cause all these problems and kill themselves at the end. (Spoiler alert for Romeo and Juliet.)

But I do not share this hate for Romeo and Juliet because I have seen a little version of Romeo and Juliet directed by one Baz Lurmann. (otherwise known as my favorite film director of all time.) In this version, Baz Lurmann used the source material exactly, but he understood how in Shakespeare's day, very few instructions were given as to the blocking of the show except in the actual words spoken by the actors. Some amateur directors take that as a sign that anything that's not there should not be included, but that robs the show of what is needed for a sympathetic love story: the setup. Why do these characters love each other so much? What drives them to risk so much and ultimately die rather than live apart?

Baz Lurmann is brilliant for many reasons, but in my opinion, the most important part of his movie is the scene when Romeo and Juliet see each other for the first time. Instead of a corny moment when crowds part, they see each other, and are instantly in love, you see a very true moment of connection that grows to attraction and then finally to love. Without this moment of connection, the rest of the movie loses meaning because the audience wouldn't be able to CARE ABOUT THE CHARACTERS.

I digress. This post isn't technically meant to be about Romeo and Juliet, but whenever I talk about Baz Lurmann's movies, I get excited.

The confession I have to make isn't that I love Romeo and Juliet; my confession is that I really don't like A Midsummer Night's Dream. I preface this by saying that I have not seen a version of this play actually performed. I reserve the right to change my mind if I see a really good performance of the show that's able to change my mind.
Every single time I read A Midsummer Night's Dream, I finish the play and wonder, "Why did I just read that?" Most recently, I have an answer: It's what my current Art and Performance Elements class is discussing. But I didn't like the play much more than when I first read it. I'm glad to understand more of the elements we talked about in class such as the historical context and the mythology Shakespeare alludes to. I also really enjoy certain passages of the play because Shakespeare was wonderful with words.

But I really don't care about the characters. I am given no reason to sympathize with Hermia and Lysander running into the forest and eloping. I understand they need to run off to give the opportunity for Demetrius the Douche and Helena the Hopeless to follow them and get caught up in hilarity, but other than the funny situations, I really don't see the point of that whole love rectangle.
The fairies are even worse. Other than the fact that the world is screwed up because the Fairy King and Queen are fighting, I don't care. I don't care which of them gets the kid, and I don't care about the power struggle.

Does anyone have ANY recommendations of a good version of A Midsummer Night's Dream that I could watch that could change my mind?