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02 November 2013 @ 08:10 pm
vaguely Scottish things  
I watched Reign this week (the CW show "about" Mary, Queen of Scots). So, so terrible - but not even in a fun way. (By the time Mary said, "I've come to bribe you with this new drink called coffee," I couldn't even bring myself to facepalm. I had lost the will.) And the costumes are dreadful - not just inaccurate, but often really ugly (at one point Mary was wearing a weird cross between a Regency gown and a 90s peasant top, but with the bottom hem caught up at points like a curtain, so that it showed her calves and made her look dumpy and weird). And for some reason no one seems to understand that being a queen is not exactly like being a high-school girl? (Mary and one of her ladies-in-waiting - though I can't remember whether it was the one named Lola or, for the love of farthingales, the one named Greer - got into this weird one-sided spat about a boy, and it was so goofy: she is a queen, and hence might have to dance with the guy you wanted to go on a picnic with? Because of how she is a queen and can't go around insulting even illegitimate noblemen at court?) I genuinely do not understand why the CW is bothering. (My best friend, bless her, has a theory: that actually, this show has been kicking around in development at various networks for years, and all of the actually historical bits have been lopped and sanded off in the process.) It seems like they probably want to cash in on the whole swords-and-intrigue Game of Thrones thing, in which case, why bother claiming that your show is about Mary, Queen of Scots? Why not just change all the names of the players to fantasy equivalents and run with it? It wouldn't stop the show from being terrible, but at least it would stop compounding the problem with the utter disregard for anything even remotely resembling history. (Also...it's not like I expect the show to last long enough for this to become a problem, and admittedly I know practically nothing about her life but bare outlines, but Mary, Queen of Scots did not exactly come to a triumphant end? The young prince I think she was mooning over in the episode I saw died two years after they were married, and then there was Darnley, which...no, and then Bothwell - double no - and then her life basically turns into the song "Fotheringay," and then the execution and the little dog under her skirts, so I'm sort of morbidly curious about how widely the show would plan on veering from history - because while Mary's life would make a fabulous, heartbreaking miniseries, it is not exactly the stuff of a romantic CW show.

Haven't had the brain space to write about the NT Live Othello or last night's Macbeth, so I will probably forget what I liked or didn't like about them both. I will say that I prefer it when the dagger and Banquo's ghost *aren't* staged, though. (I'm with Ellen and Geoffrey [from Slings & Arrows, though most of you probably know this] on this one: it's much scarier to watch a man ranting at an empty chair. Also, we're much more likely to believe that the ghost is really there if we can see it, too; I like the ambiguity of not knowing. ...Someone must have done a production where the ghost appears for the first part of the scene, but then doesn't come back when Macbeth starts talking to it again, right? Or vice versa?) And I'm not sure how I feel about staging the murder of Duncan, either, although that might just be that I've read the play too many times with the idea in my head that people go into that room and come out horribly changed, and we never see the horror that changes them...

(There was one effect that I really liked, that made good use of the space - an old church: the dagger was initially just a long, long splinter of white light along the floor of the nave, from a door that hadn't been quite shut properly. And that really put the stress on the is of "Is that a dagger that I see before me" - or am I just hunting for shapes to take as signs? But then they shifted to doing the old "floating dagger in the air" trick, which was much less interesting.)

Also, I still not-so-secretly believe that KenBran is really best suited to comedy, but his Macbeth was very good at being irritable and angry at the world for not giving him what he wanted. (The suborning of the murderers was actually kind of hilarious - is this the best I've got to work with?) Alex Kingston was slightly disappointing in the letter-reading scene, but very interesting after that - not the pulled-together, practical Lady M you often see, who splinters offstage rather than in front of us, but overwhelmed and tremulous from very early on. Malcolm (I should look up his name again) was really good, which possibly only matters to me (am I the only one who really likes Malcolm? He's probably my favorite character in the play), sinuously twisting out of Macduff's attempted one-armed embraces, putting just the right light and sneering stress on the list of virtues that he claims he has no relish of - and making each one distinct in the mouth, which isn't easy with lists like that - but also believable as the slightly naive, unworldly figure that he actually is when not trying to test Macduff's loyalty with his lies. And Ray Fearon as Macduff totally broke my heart with "All my pretty chickens and their dam?" which is exactly what you want.

So those are not great descriptions, but it's better than the nothing I had before.
litlover12 on November 3rd, 2013 12:45 am (UTC)
This blog has the most hilarious posts about "Reign." There are recaps, and there's also a post or two just dedicated to the costumes.

tempestsarekind: elizabeth bennet is amusedtempestsarekind on November 3rd, 2013 09:27 pm (UTC)
Ooh, thanks for the link! I need to know that someone else has experienced the madness of this show. :)
Spackle: bwahaha!spacklegeek on November 3rd, 2013 12:53 am (UTC)
It wouldn't stop the show from being terrible, but at least it would stop compounding the problem with the utter disregard for anything even remotely resembling history.


Also I'm pretty sure it's a travesty that I haven't seen Slings & Arrows yet. Must do something about this. I'd probably be able to find it at the public library, right?
tempestsarekind: geoffreytempestsarekind on November 3rd, 2013 09:29 pm (UTC)
Slings & Arrows is great! My public library has it, so you might be able to get it via interlibrary loan if nothing else. And if you do the DVDs-in-the-mail version of Netflix, you can get it that way as well (I think it used to be on streaming, but I don't know if it still is, since I don't do streaming).