martha at the globe

I mean...

Jane Austen's Sanditon 'sexed up' in Andrew Davies adaptation

...I would scream, but this is just what he does now, right? He doesn't have any other cards to play, so he keeps doing this instead:
One section from the novel in which two characters appear “closely engaged in gentle conversation” has been turned into a sex scene. Another includes a sex act in the woods.

Sure, because those are the same things. Talking, sex, same diff.

You can watch the Masterpiece Theatre trailer here, if you want; perhaps you, like me, will spend the entire thing yelling at the main character to pin up her messy hair.
martha at the globe


I am Cranky about Nick Hytner's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Bridge Theatre, as I recently learned that he's more or less swapped the parts of Titania and Oberon - so that Oberon is the one who won't give up the child and is therefore humiliated by being forced to fall in love with Bottom??? (Note: I say "humiliated," because that's Oberon's - real Oberon's - intent, but actually what I always want from Midsummer and that Titania/Bottom relationship is something glimmering and gorgeous, something that makes the "Bottom's dream" speech - "I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream past the wit of man to say what dream it was" - seem warranted.) My reaction to this is mostly "bleh," with a bit of "wait, does that mean that Gwendoline Christie won't get to do the 'forgeries of jealousy' speech or have that tender moment where Titania remembers her friend who died in childbirth? That seems like a bad trade," and "uh, why are people so bad at avoiding adding homophobic undertones to 400-plus-year-old texts?" Because now - no matter how lovely and affirming the actual Oberon/Bottom relationship is - part of Titania's plan to humiliate Oberon involves the unavoidable undercurrent that there should be something inherently embarrassing about a man falling in love with another man. (I am sure Hytner didn't intend this, but, like, yikes. We'd have to live in a far less "no homo," queerbaity world for that implication not to be there, I think.) (See also Simon Godwin's decision to make Malvolio into Malvolia at the National Theatre: were Maria and Toby et al. supposed to read as though they were specifically targeting Malvolia as a lesbian by getting her to fall in love with Olivia, or was that just a thoughtless accident?)

And...okay. I know the production is doing the standard doubling of Titania/Hippolyta and Theseus/Oberon, so I can sort of see a theatrical logic to having Theseus/Oberon be the one to undergo a transformative experience in the woods, as a way of motivating Theseus' change of heart at the end of the play. But it also feels to me like a lazy attempt to make Titania more of a Strong Female Character (ooh, this time SHE'S the boss!), while forgetting the fact that the original-text Titania is a major moral voice in the play. (And if I were Gwendoline Christie, I think I would be put out that I didn't get to deliver those ringing, defiant monosyllables: "And for her sake do I rear up her boy, / And for her sake I will not part with him.")

I mean, I bought a ticket for the NT Live broadcast in October, so I'm not boycotting it or anything, just cranky.
martha at the globe

man is a giddy thing?

uggggggggh this review of the Shakespeare in the Park production of Much Ado:
“I think this is your daughter,” says one man to another, indicating a young woman he hasn’t met.

“Her mother hath many times told me so,” the second man retorts.

Just as it must have in London in 1599, the line gets a big laugh in Central Park, where the Public Theater’s production of “Much Ado About Nothing” opened at the Delacorte Theater on Tuesday.

But surely that laugh rings differently today than it did 420 years ago, or even just one. What for centuries was merely mild ribaldry now touches hot-button issues: the question of women’s sexual self-rule and the problem of male paranoia passed off as pleasantry.

This is SUCH a White Dude thing to say: 'throughout all of time, no one has ever thought about male sexual jealousy as anything other than mild ribaldry before the # MeToo movement! Even though this very problem of male sexual jealousy is absolutely baked into the very substance of Much Ado About Nothing, so that you would have to be an absolute dotard - as Shakespeare might have said - to have missed this point ere now! (Indeed, it's not as if Shakespeare wrote several plays about the problem of male sexual jealousy and how little relation it can have to reality. No sir! White men in the benighted past never thought about such things, unlike my woke modern self!) And surely none of the women who have ever been involved in productions of this play, or who have sat in the audience through the years, have ever reacted to this line in a different way than I have, with my objective awareness of what people have always thought throughout all of time!'

I'm not actually sure I want to read the rest of the review at this point, but guess I will.

...I'm back; this is the last paragraph:
But the comedy of negotiation and reconciliation is one we need to experience right now: the kind that can still hold out hope, despite whatever war looms beyond the beautiful trees, for an engaged electorate, a fair vote, swift justice and a marriage of equals.

Has...has Jesse Green never seen a production of Much Ado before? Or any of Shakespeare's comedies? Is that the problem here? Because this play is ALWAYS about negotiation and reconciliation; that is its entire point. (There is a reason that one of the refrains in the Much Ado section of my dissertation is literally about Benedick and others learning that the ideal always has to be in negotiation with the real.) Does he just not know that Shakespeare's comedies are always about hope? Who forgot to put that into his critic pack?

...why don't people understand the comedies ever, she asks for possibly the millionth time, despairingly.

(I mean, I guess it's nice that this production seems to have tapped into these aspects of the play! But I am utterly bemused as to why this critic thinks that the production has added something new to the play - "gently but firmly escorts the great comedy into a # MeToo, Black Lives Matter world," as he puts it - as though these things weren't in the play all along.)
martha at the globe

um. did everyone else know about this?

I'm not even going to blame PBS' usually terrible advertising for its Shakespeare offerings, because to be fair, I've been busy enough that I haven't been watching much PBS lately - but still, it seems like someone (maybe the Donmar Warehouse, since I signed up for their mailing list about the Shakespeare Trilogy and all!) should have informed me of this before now, when I randomly discovered it through looking for a Shakespeare Uncovered interview about Macbeth with Harriet Walter and Antony Sher!

Anyway. The Donmar's all-female production of Julius Caesar is airing on Great Performances this Friday, March 29, at 9 PM, and will be available for streaming on Saturday.

So...that's happening. I'm not even going to be mad that I very easily could have missed this, and will instead be glad that I went on a tangent in my English 10 class about the question of whether the Macbeths have had children, which led me to see if I could find that Shakespeare Uncovered clip I only dimly remember from the first season...
bored history boys

a surprising history boys fact

I just finished reading a book of letters from the National Theatre archives (Dramatic Exchanges: The Lives and Letters of the National Theatre, edited by Daniel Rosenthal), which I found out about via the NT podcast, on which actors did a dramatic reading of some of the letters in the book. The section on the "Nick Hytner years" is relatively short, possibly because Hytner recently released a memoir of his time at the National, but there were a couple of letters from Alan Bennett about The History Boys - and a photograph of the cast listing from the first reading, which is where I "discovered" that Jamie Parker originally read for Rudge! (I don't want to go so far as to say that this was never mentioned in any of the interviews I've read with Jamie over the years, or on the DVD special features - or possibly even in Hytner's memoir - but if so, it didn't sink in.) The mind boggles, a bit.

(Also, Ben Whishaw read for Scripps???)
martha at the globe

going for the obvious "let her paint an inch thick" subject line

I don't know whether I will ever actually see Mary, Queen of Scots or The Favourite, but I am enjoying this thing where suddenly everyone is thinking about early modern queens:

The Real Story Behind Margot Robbie’s Wild Queen Elizabeth Makeup