Modern Life

Emily posted this a while back and I recently fell deep into like with it:

Hamlet
(Facebook News Feed Edition)
by Sarah Schmelling

– – – –

Horatio thinks he saw a ghost.

Hamlet thinks it’s annoying when your uncle marries your mother right after your dad dies.

The king thinks Hamlet’s annoying.

Laertes thinks Ophelia can do better.

Hamlet’s father is now a zombie.

– – – –

The king poked the queen.

The queen poked the king back.

Hamlet and the queen are no longer friends.

Marcellus is pretty sure something’s rotten around here.

Hamlet became a fan of daggers.

– – – –

Polonius says Hamlet’s crazy … crazy in love!

Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Hamlet are now friends.

Hamlet wonders if he should continue to exist. Or not.

Hamlet thinks Ophelia might be happier in a convent.

Ophelia removed “moody princes” from her interests.

Hamlet posted an event: A Play That’s Totally Fictional and In No Way About My Family

The king commented on Hamlet’s play: “What is wrong with you?”

Polonius thinks this curtain looks like a good thing to hide behind.

Polonius is no longer online.

– – – –

Hamlet added England to the Places I’ve Been application.

The queen is worried about Ophelia.

Ophelia loves flowers. Flowers flowers flowers flowers flowers. Oh, look, a river.

Ophelia joined the group Maidens Who Don’t Float.

Laertes wonders what the hell happened while he was gone.

– – – –

The king sent Hamlet a goblet of wine.

The queen likes wine!

The king likes … oh crap.

The queen, the king, Laertes, and Hamlet are now zombies.

Horatio says well that was tragic.

Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, says yes, tragic. We’ll take it from here.

Denmark is now Norwegian.

Snake in Fridge: Nearly Entertaining Theatre

I want to begin this review by saying that there is nothing more painful than having to admit that someone’s work of art, something they poured a lot of time, effort, and artistry into, wasn’t enjoyable.

But that’s my summary of Nearly Naked Theatre’s production of Snake in Fridge. What appeared to be a raucous romp in the vein of, say, Rocky Horror Picture Show was actually more like an afterschool special.

I felt like the majority of fault rested with the playwright. At two and a half hours, the play is just too long, too rambling, unfocused. The dialog is clunky and unrealistic, as evidenced by the actor’s tripping over their words on several occasions. The story tried to weave too many subplots, some of which didn’t even come to a resolution. For example, the synopsis alludes to the fact that the house in the play “may or may not be demanding a human sacrifice,” but that doesn’t even come into play until after the first hour of the play elapses!

The play was rated “NC-17” by the theatre, and we were not short on wang (pun intended) in this show. There was a lot of wang running around the stage, and some boobs (in context). I’m not offended by nudity unless it’s my own. What was admirable to me, though, was that almost every male actor in the show went buff at some point—admirable because the theatre itself was about 20 degrees.

The performances weren’t among the best I’ve seen in Valley theatre, but many of them were uneven. I keep feeling, though, that the script didn’t give the actors much to go on. Characters were charicatures and had few interesting qualities. One character, Randy, wasn’t even fully developed in the script, and another, Charles, inexplicably appears in the second act.

This play was an unfortunate mess, but it’s true redeeming quality was that this production company tried everything they could to get it to work. The best part by far was the set design, which incorporated no less than 20 individual smaller sets, ranging from a nudie bar to a bathroom to a dance club to–yes–even the driver’s seat of a car, complete with headlights. This innovative set-up kept the play working on the few credible legs it had going for it.

Love, Janis

Last night I saw Arizona Theatre Company’s production of Love, Janis at the Herberger Theatre. The show dramatizes the last three-four years of Janis Joplin’s life, her meteoric rise to fame, and her untimely death at 27.

It was an interesting show. The narrative switches back and forth between monologues of Janis’s letters to her parents in Texas/interviews with an unseen interviewer and stage performances of her songs, complete with live rock band. Two actresses take on the role of Janis, sometimes even occupying the stage at the same time—one plays “speaking Janis,” who dramatizes the letters and interviews, and one who primarily sings the songs in a voice uncannily like Joplin’s.

The play opens with a youthful, exuberant Janis writing from her new home in San Francisco, where she has just hooked up with a band as the lead singer. This Janis, “speaking Janis,” is overwhelmed by the potential of living in the city. The actress who played her was perfectly cast—she was small, seemingly dwarfed by the stage, with wild hair she constantly tossed around her in excitement. Singing Janis was taller, seemed older and harsher than her counterpart. From time to time, they would be interviewed onstage together, each one offering a slightly different perspective on Being Janis Joplin. This is one of the things I enjoyed about the show, seeing how “experienced Janis” differed from “idealistic Janis,” although eventually the two personalities did merge and “youthful” Janis became overwhelmed by a sad kind of hubris and disillusionment.

Another enjoyable aspect was that the show didn’t focus just on performance—it gave you glimpses into why Joplin was drawn to blues music, what she thought it could accomplish, and what her goals were as an artist. These sections were almost a kind of metatext that expanded on the performances provided by Singing Janis.

It’s hard to believe that Joplin’s legacy was built on only about three years of work. The show provides a worthy retrospective of the singer’s catalog and a heartwrenching glimpse into her rise and ultimate self-destruction from drugs and alcohol.