I hate using the word ‘starry’ to describe something that uses a lot of recognizable actors, but hell if this isn’t the starriest thing I’ve seen since those shitty “Valentine’s Day” movies. I’m okay here with making the main descriptor of “It’s Only A Play” ‘starry’ (as every other piece about the show does) because it is indeed its main selling point. And, more than that, if I don’t go with starry I’ll have to go with ‘uninspired’, or ‘disappointing’, or ‘lame’. So, yeah, starry.
"Shakespeare in Love" on the West End: It's A Mystery Why It's Not A Musical But It's Still Worth Seeing
I never thought I would miss or even appreciate Gwyneth Paltrow. Sure, she was never hocking $200 white t-shirts and fair-trade moccasin shavings in her movies, but her Gooping activity has infiltrated most people’s memories of her acting history. Her film career is clouded with the smoke emanating from her custom glass gilded barbecue for macrobiotic mushrooms and meat from animals she petted with Mario Batali. But she was a pretty good actress, remember? And her Viola de Lesseps in “Shakespeare in Love” was fantastic, Oscar-worthy and Oscar-winning stuff.
So why did I all of a sudden recall Gwynnie’s ‘90s-era acting ability with such fondness? It’s kind of mean, but it’s because I just saw the new play version of “Shakespeare in Love” on the West End. It’s a lovely, fun show that you’ll enjoy, especially if you liked the movie. But if, like me, you loved the movie, so much so that you confront the 90% of the populace that still likes to argue that it shouldn’t have won Best Picture over “Saving Private Ryan”, then you will also, like me, find various quibbles with this show’s lack of editing, its pushing of easy physical laughs, and…the crazy voice of its Viola. (I mean, you don’t have to have even seen the movie to agree with the latter.)
The latest all-around excellent show to open on Broadway boasts a wonderful ensemble of super recognizable actors that magically mesh together, making it stand out so far this season. (See: “It’s Only A Play”. I mean don’t see it. Review forthcoming). That James Earl Jones plays the Grandpa (of an all-white family, which I love; see color-blind casting is FINE and GOOD and WORKS) is reason enough to see this show, and you’ll become fans of the wonderful theatre and H’wood actors composing the rest of the cast.
Despite how much this revival of “You Can’t Take It With You” has going for it, every single review begins the same way: The writer concedes that it’s an antiquated play, that everyone assumes it’s too old-fashioned to be relevant nowadays, but that this production’s team has done a bang-up job (which means good, contrary to how it sounds (from now on let’s agree it means bad, like banged up) (change approved)) to bring it into the 21st century. It’s actually extremely annoying. All these writers (getting paid, ffs) follow this same trite and tired formula, as if they have to apologize for the play being old. So ageist! It’s also silly. You don’t see people apologizing for Shakespeare. And you’re probably saying, but Shakespeare is still relevant today. Well so is this! No apologies!
No one should ever miss an opportunity to see a Shakespeare play performed at The Globe in London. The company is consistently top-notch, and Shakespeare plays are the best things on earth, right?
Okay, most of them are. My latest experience with “Julius Caesar” kind of left me frustrated, maybe not with the bard per se, or the production, but with the characters in this famed work. Oh man alive. Well not alive here, but that’s what I say. The point of this play seems to be that white men are the worrrrrrrrrst. And not just ‘the worst’ but the Jean-Ralphio “worrrrrrst”.
I <3 Diversions
Entertainment is a ridiculously big part of my life. I grew up in movie theatres, so in my family you have to see pretty much every movie to make it in conversation. This pop culture knowledge has extended to television, music, and, for me, the theatre. To quote Abed, I like liking things, so there's that.