In the past two days I have seen some of the oddest plays. One Tuesday night I saw A Midsummer Night’s Dream with my Shakespeare class. It was in an abandoned office. The building was by Oxford Circus which is a huge busy street with a lot of trendy stores. This was a nice office building, but this particular office looked like it was under construction with loose wires, half hammered drywall that was partly painted, unfinished floors and painted windows. The office was separated into two sections by a sheet and the first section was set up like a bistro with mismatched furniture and tables with coffee for purchase. There were not enough seats so the section was crowded with many people standing. The actors came out and roamed around for awhile, interacting with the audience until all of a sudden, Theseus enters yelling and the play begins. As I began to think there is no way this play is going to be able to go on in this manner for over an hour, the first act concluded and the audience moved into the other half of the office where the chairs were arranged in a circle around the “stage”. The costumes were shabby and urban; how modern-day RENT costumes would look. Many safety pins and rolls of duct tape were used. The fairies would creep around the floor and hide behind the audience chairs making funny noises. Though it was odd, it was a very dynamic and well-done production.
Today I saw The Homecoming. So strange. Set in the 60’s, a white man brings his black wife home to meet his British family. They have three kids and have been married 9 years. Turns out his brother is a pimp, his dad is an old angry man, and his other brother is an amateur boxer. The family meets the man’s wife and it doesn’t go too smoothly. The husband and wife get ready to leave and the pimp brother asks for a dance with his sister-in-law before they go. The wife and brother in law begin kissing. Then the amateur boxer brother steps in and they start kissing. He pushes her onto the couch and they then move to the floor. All the while the wife is obliging and the husband stands there frozen. The next scene opens and the amateur boxer brother comes down saying she won’t go all the way with him. The wife comes down and they decide that she will stay with the brothers and father while her husband returns home. In order to earn her keep, she will be a prostitute, but will make food and clean the house while they are away. She negotiates with them and seems to take pride in her sexual power. It seems to be a commentary on gender and power. I will have to read more and get back to you but is the link if you want to read more about this play.
Originally published 2/13/08