Thursday, February 05, 2004

Theatre Thursday: The Hollow Crown

I will forever remember last night's performance of The Hollow Crown, now playing at The Princess of Wales theatre. Unfortunately, that's because it was the very first time I have every walked out of a show at intermission.

I must admit, I was biased against the show from the outset. Here's the press material:

The Royal Shakespeare Company brings to Toronto its famous production of John Barton's The Hollow Crown, a history of the kings and queens of England - but nothing like any schoolbook history you've ever read.

Story and song illuminate the splendid institution of the monarchy, its rich history, its colourful pageantry, its noble traditions - as well as its majestic quarrels, lordly jealousies, regal squabbles, uncivil wars (and the merest hint of the rowdy secrets of royal bedchambers).

If the "splendid institution of the monarchy" isn't enough to turn your stomach, then listen to what Vanessa Redgrave had to say at the press conference last week: "The monarchs who wrote were unafraid for their words to be heard... I think something of that kind of authority is missing today. The quality which says this is what I think, come what may."

With the utmost respect, Ms. Redgrave, do you think that this might have possibly had something to do with the fact that these monarchs were unelected, claimed Divine Right and could kill anyone who disagreed with the flip of a wrist? How absurd.

Here are some reviews: Robert Cushman in The Post is charitable; Richard Ouzounian at The Star writes a two-star review, but gives it three anyway; Glenn Sumi in NOW does the same; Chistopher Hoile at Eye, clueless as ever, gushes.

Only Kamal Al-Solayee at The Globe and Mail has the guts to say the show is a sham:

No doubt The Hollow Crown will go on touring for another 40 years or more and it will always have its fans. This won't change the fact that it has become a hollow and shameful vanity piece that needs some serious retooling in performance. It's not dead theatre yet, but it's clinging on to dear life by a thread. At nearly $75 for a top-priced ticket, this is also one overpriced, imported ham. And why import it when, if you look for it, we have enough of it here?

It bothers me to see some of these older reporters and reviewers bow down to the British acting monarchy (Donald Sinden , Vanessa Redgrave , Alan Howard and Ian Richardson) like good colonials. For instance, Michael Posner in his preview in The Globe and Mail quotes Richardson as saying, "[The Hollow Crown] is as critical of the monarchs as . . . North Americans would want us to be."

Richardson's full quote more fully reveals the antiquated mindset these people have: "It is as critical of the monarchs as you, a North American race, would want us to be." (See CP.)

I can't think of any valid reason for Posner to have cut that out.

Enough. I won't rant any more, especially since I didn't even have the courtesy to stick it out for the whole show.

I will tell you the reason I left the show, however. I love theatre and think that it is an alive and relevant art form. But all I could think of during this show was: Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead...

How depressing.


Well, my hits have been through the roof the past few days, so hello to all new visitors to On the Fence.

On Wednesday, all the new visitors were coming from a lovely blog called Emily's Evolution. Emily was kind enough to compliment my entry on Janet Jackson's alleged wardrobe malfunction.

Today that Janet Jackson entry was responsible for about, oh, 100 hits, because when you search for "Janet Jackson's tit" on, this page inexplicably comes up first.

Welcome tit-seekers!


Paul Wells has an exclusive interview with former Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Robert "Bob" Nault up on his blog.

That's all well and and good, but what I really want to know is: What is former House Leader Don Boudria up to these days? Remember when he used to be in the news all the time? Like the time he visited Canada's Neutron Beam Laboratory? Man, those were the days.

Now, I only see him in my dreams...


NB: The comments on my blog aren't working again. Please feel free to e-mail me. I post most everything.
And I'll work on fixing the comments pronto.

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