Sunday, January 24, 2010

As You Like It at the BAM

One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2010 was to take advantage of living near New York City more. I love theater, and yet last year I really didn't get into the city to see anything, and it wasn't because there was nothing I wanted to see. More often than not I get hung up on the fact that nobody else wants to go to a play I want to see, and although it would be great to go to dinner and do the whole "theater evening" thing, I'd rather go by myself than just miss out.

Kevin Spacey took over as artistic director at London's Old Vic theater in 2003, and ever since then I have wanted to see a play there. The last couple of times I've been in London the shows that have been playing there have either been too expensive or too expensive for a depressing play. Fortunately, The Bridge Project, a transatlantic cooperation between the Old Vic and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, has brought some great plays to Brooklyn, and I thought I'd start with one of them.

So last night I went to see As You Like It, directed by Sam Mendes (director of American Beauty) and starring an amazing British and American cast. The cast was everything that a Shakespeare comedy requires, replete with a believable couple (real-life marrieds Juliet Rylance and Christian Camargo), a quick and funny clown (Thomas Sadoski) and an impeccably suave cynic (Stephen Dillane). The darkly sexy Edward Bennett as the villainous Oliver was a welcome surprise.

The set was nice and spare--I always feel like a Shakespeare play with an elaborate set is compensating for some kind of deficiency--so scene changes were handled efficiently. Even with the speedy switcheroos the show was super long for a comedy (the rhythm of some of the snappy patter could probably have been stepped up a bit). We ended up getting out a little before 11, and the performance started at around 7:40. Still, I'd have hated to miss out on any of the scene stealing minor characters (there are some terrific bits for the women in this play), and they're typically the casualties of an expeditious production.

I was also really happy with the John Harvey Theater at the BAM. It was much smaller than I had imagined from the online seating tool that I used to choose my ticket, and I was far closer to the action than I had imagined. All in all, the show was well worth the money, and a good start to keeping my resolution. I even came home and bought a ticket for the next play in the series, The Tempest.

Now if I could just get started on losing 10 pounds...

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