Category Archives: theater

plays

I’ve read a couple plays for a class I’m taking and they are very modern plays, meaning they’re not Shakespeare with lots of fluffy words and a cast of a million characters.

These plays only have four main characters and aren’t very long. No multiple acts, just a large handful of scenes and lots of talking. Plays, I’ve noticed, have lots of talking. It’s all about talking. Not so much action, or it’s not the emphasis. The words are supreme.

Plays appear to basically express the writer’s intellectual thoughts about an aspect of society. While in some ways it’s really great, in other ways it can be total BS. And of course you can interpret a play both ways. Isn’t that the great thing about plays?

Brooklyn and Hamlet

Over the weekend I saw a film (Brooklyn) and a play (Hamlet) and while my expectations were low and high for each show respectively, they ended up being reversed by the time the actors took the bow.

The film, set in Ireland and Brooklyn, NY, was beautifully made, with great costumes and strong but subtle acting. The story, about a young woman immigrating to the U.S. alone, didn’t seem thrilling to me, so I lacked interest in watching it, even though there was a Q&A with the lead actress, director, and producer afterwards.

However, the story starts quickly, with the young daughter leaving her mother and older sister behind in Ireland, where she had no prospects for a future. By the end of the film I was all wrapped up in her story, wondering how it would end. Would it be cheesy or tragic? It ended up being the “right” ending, and I felt like I could identify with her and her struggles of identity and what is considered “home.”

One particular detail I liked about the film was having the native New Yorkers speak with their distinct accents. The NY accent today isn’t very distinct like it was back then, so it was a nice touch to add to the authentic feel of the time period of the 1950s.

In stark contrast, the Hamlet I saw via the National Theatre Live screening had no distinct setting of time. That was the most obvious thing that stood out to me; so much so that it became unsettling, and, in the end, extremely irritating.

Shakespearean dialogue mashed up with elaborate stage pieces, fancy suits, Victorian style coats, military uniforms, hoodies, jeans, sneakers, and a flannel shirt made a visually inconsistent, incoherent statement.

I wanted to be blown away by this play, I really did. And yet I have to admit that I wasn’t. The one very good thing I will say is that it made me think about what I did and didn’t like, and this interpretation challenged me. But I still didn’t like it.