Monday, June 16, 2014

Much Ado

On Friday, I was excited to win tickets in the virtual line for Shakespeare in the Park. I was less excited when I realized it was 100% chance of rain around show time. Still, since it's rare to win tickets, I figured I would persevere. Along with flash flood warnings being texted to me by the weather service, the walk to the theater through Central Park seemed more and more ominous.
This is what it looks like shortly before the sky opens up.
 After some power walking, I made it to the theater just in time to grab my tickets. I turned around and the pouring rain had started. Since it was the type of downpour that an umbrella wouldn't really stand up against, and since I was in the middle of the park, I chose to stay under the relative comfort of the overhang of the Public Theater. There were beers and food for sale, so it was a reasonably comfortable place to hole up for a few hours. I figured Sam would join once the rain stopped, but he ended up forging his way into the park as well.

The poor people in the stand-by line. They were eventually told to come under the overhang as well. And the good news is, they all got in. In fact, the theater was half empty.
 The show ended up starting about an hour late, but I was impressed the theater never called it off. We were seated while it was still raining, and since we weren't allowed to have umbrellas open during the show (for obvious reasons), and we weren't willing to shell out $15 for garbage sack ponchos, at first we planned to leave at intermission. However, luckily it stopped a few minutes later. And true to Shakespeare in the Park form it was a wonderful performance of Much Ado About Nothing.

You can't take pictures in the theater, so I'm punctuating this post with images from sculpture art in parks. You'll note it was lovely every other day this weekend. This was Saturday in Socrates Sculpture Park. This one's cooler in person. 
The play starred Shakespeare in the Park regulars Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater as Beatrice and Benedick. They were both exceptional, per the usual. There was also a guy from Game of Thrones, although I suspect none of my readership watches that show.  The staging was a bit more straightforward in setting than some of the more experimental productions The Public Theater has done in the past. The stage was transformed into the town of Messina with a lovely Italian villa and little garden and orchard. This was actually my first time to see this play performed, although I remember reading it in college. It doesn't quite top Twelfth Night in terms of my favorites, but I will say it grew in my esteem. It was also fun to hear the quote we'd chosen for one of The Bard's Cards read in its appropriate context.

Socrates Sculpture Park. Can you spy Sam?
 Shakespeare in the Park is one of the New York traditions that I appreciate the most. Combining good theater with being outside and making it free? It doesn't get much better. I feel like some of my favorite theater experiences have been in the Delacorte. Admittedly, some are better than others (I thought last year's musical version of Love's Labour's Lost was a swing and a miss), but I always walk out of the theater with such a wonderful feeling. The leisurely walk across the park at night to get back to the train, along with the throng of other theater goers is all part of the experience. So I guess what I'm saying is: there's a reason I'm willing to walk through a huge park in an approaching thunderstorm or pay $8 for a hot dog while crouching up against a building for two hours. And while I sometimes complain about how much things cost here and other drawbacks that come from living in this city, I do appreciate all the experiences I have here.

Madison Square Park on Sunday. Not my favorite of their sculpture series, but still kind of interesting looking.

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