I initially suggested that I have seen the Tempest three times on my Goodreads and Booklikes posts that is) but now that I think about it I believe I have only seen it twice before I saw this production (and I believe that both of those previous productions were also by the Bell Shakespeare Company). Anyway, when I discovered that they were staging another production (this time only in Sydney) I pretty quickly booked my tickets because it happens to be one of my favourite Shakespearian plays.
As I have said on my numerous reviews on Goodreads (and elsewhere), a play is meant to be watched, not read, and it can be very difficult to truly appreciate a play unless you watch it performed. The problem is that you rarely see many plays performed by playwrights of the past (unless that playwright is Shakespeare – he is still very popular). This means that it was going to be difficult, if not impossible, to actually see any of Shaw’s works. However, imagine my delight when I jumped onto the website of the Palace Nova Brighton Bay and discovered that they were showing a production of Shaw’s Man & Superman that was recently staged in London. While I have seen movie adaptations of couple of his plays (The Devil’s Disciple and Caeser and Cleopatra – both of which have now been removed from Youtube due to copyright violations), I have yet, until now, seen one of his plays performed. Of all the plays that they could have chosen they selected a relatively obscure one.
I have had a rather odd relationship with this particular play. I first read it during university and it really didn’t appeal to me, especially since the lecturer that we had seemed to be obsessed with sex. At the time I really didn’t like the idea of sexualising Shakespeare; until I realised that Shakespeare is actually really, really dirty (though due to the language most of the references simply go over our head). However, it wasn’t until one of my friend’s put on a production of this play that I suddenly understood what was going on, and that my lecturer was only outlining what many of the academics had been saying for quite some time. Still, it is certainly not one of my favourite plays, and many of the elements that appear in As You Like It also appear in his other plays.
Well, it seems that I simply cannot get away from watching Shakesperian plays, even if the production is, in my opinion, somewhat sub-par. I am starting to understand why a friend of my really hates going to Australian theatre. Okay, being a regular attendee at theatres of Broadway, and regularly traveling to the United States to go to Shakespeare festivals probably does that to you, and while I have never been to the States, I have been to London, and seen performances in the West End and at the Globe and honestly, these more modern adaptations are really starting to get to me.
There are actually a few stories that I can tell you about my experience with this play, one of them involving traveling halfway around the world just so that I could see it (because if the show finished I knew I would end up kicking myself to no end). However, after I had spent the $2000.00 odd dollars on a round-trip ticket to London I then discovered that I was coming to Australia. Mind you, that didn’t phase me one bit because I still got to have an awesome holiday in Europe.
Oscar Wilde is surely a tragic figure, a victim of 19th and early 20th century prejudice. Then again, I guess it also had something to do with him being quite a well known personality at the time, though in 1895 he was convicted of ‘Gross Indecency’ ), and sentenced to two years in gaol.