June 16th, 2019

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.)