We’ve just walked back from the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, directly adjacent to the Old Globe in Balboa Park. We saw a production of William Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest. It’s a favorite of ours.
This was a good, solid production, but I confess that I didn’t absolutely love it.
It was done largely in more or less modern dress, and several of the traditionally masculine roles were assumed by women. So, for instance, the aged and kindly Neapolitan courtier Gonzalo became Gonzala.
That was fine. No problem. (No real point, either, so far as I could see. Except, obviously, to provide more jobs for actresses than The Tempest normally provides.)
The role of Prospero — in this case, Prospera — was taken by Kate Burton, a daughter (as I’ve only just now realized) of the late Richard Burton and, thus, a stepdaughter of Elizabeth Taylor. The program notes, which I read while waiting for the play to begin, promised that having a female play the role of the sorcerer would would change the part in fascinating ways. I confess that I missed them. Ms. Burton was very good, but I don’t think that her gender added much to (or detracted much from) the meaning of the play.
However . . . With her hair turned blonde and done in a particular style, Prospera bore an absolutely uncanny resemblance to Hillary Clinton. As the play went on, I became more and more certain that her Hillary-like physical appearance could not possibly be unintentional or a coincidence. Now that might change the meaning of the play and the significance of the part. But I’ll have to think about it for a while. Maybe for a long while.
We had lunch with a friend today at a place called The Crack Shack, on Kettner Boulevard, in Little Italy. It was very good.
“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”
William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Many scholars think that The Tempest represents Shakespeare’s farewell to the theater. When Prospero breaks his wizard’s staff and buries his occult books, that, they say, is Shakespeare’s announcement of his own retirement from the magic of the stage.
Posted from San Diego, California