Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Three Musketeers - A review

Event: The Three Musketeers, Shakespeare Santa Cruz

Cost: Our tickets were comp'ed, but you can buy yours here (Tickets range from $14-$50)

“All for one, and one for all!” The Three Musketeers (Kit Wider, Allen Gilmore, and J. Todd Adams) with D’Artagnan (Leigh Miller) in Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s 2011 production of “The Three Musketeers” (photo by rr jones).

The review:

I read The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas when I was nine or ten years old, unabridged, because my mother was a teacher and didn't believe in sugary cereals *or* abridged books. I tore through it an a day (ah, summer), and despite the fact that it's been almost 20 years since, I remember enjoying it.

I also have seen two of the eight million film adaptations, my favorite being the all-star Disney Cast. Feel free to lose all respect you ever had for me, I also LOVE the first two Mighty Ducks movies. And Newsies.

If you have somehow managed to miss any references to The Three Musketeers, it's basically a story about bros, brawls, and babes. I might paraphrase.

Let's talk about the acting first, shall we? There were lots of familiar *voices* from previous productions at Shakespeare Santa Cruz. I say "voices" because this is a Hair and Costume drama. SO. MANY. HAIRPIECES. I know it's necessary for historical accuracy, but the wig budget for this show must have been through the roof. It also obscured a lot of the familiar faces, which is a pity since the actors are *so* handsome. Repeat attendees with an ear for voices (ahem, me), will recognize many of the distinctive voices onstage.

The acting was stellar- Charles Pasternak, who was my favorite Romeo EVER (take that, DiCaprio) played an utterly foppish and convincing King Louis. (Andrew didn't recognize him at ALL, which speaks to how much Pasternak changed his voice and carriage for the role.) J. Todd Adams (who has been in every production in the Festival Glen I've had the privilege of seeing) played a soulful and (occasionally) tortured Aramis. Kit Wilder plays a delightfully lecherous Porthos, and Allen Gilmore plays Athos with command of the stage, and presents the major plot twist towards the end of the show with sincerity.

I thought that Katie MacNichol could have played the Countess de Winter as more of a villain, but to be honest, after seeing Rebecca DeMornay's performance, it's hard to out-villain her. (Side note: Does DeMornay EVER *not* play a villain?)

Leigh Nichols Miller played the young and enthusiastic D'Artagnan well, my only complaint was his *incredibly* distracting hair. Among all the wigs, here was D'Artagnan with what was either a poorly done bleach job, but looked more like an experiment with Sun-In gone wrong. If the lighter hair was an intentional costume part (to represent youth, light, all that is good), I wish they had done a better job. Or covered that hot mess up.

The interpretation of the book - which I'll admit, is no easy task - was entertaining, but choppy and disjointed at parts. It felt like the folks adapting the novel were just trying to include *too* much. There were quite a few 30 second scenes that could have accomplished the same amount of exposition with an explanatory line instead of a scene change and an incredibly short scene. 

I would have traded all of the shortie scenes for more development of the characters- like how D'Artagnan kills a man, and only seems troubled over it for the few moments between then and then end of the scene. Not only did they completely disregard any real conflict he may have felt, but it mostly left me feeling cheated out of any real exposition there.

Was it better than a movie adaptation? It was different. Despite what I felt were adaptive shortcomings, I still really enjoyed the production, and I would recommend attending. If you're a slave to the original, this might not be the play for you. If you're up for a fun show with sword fights and camaraderie, go for it. Purists, re-read the book and NEVER see an adaptation of a book, they'll always leave you cold.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Probably not a shark

If you're not a friend of mine on Facebook (or if you don't follow the podcast on Facebook or Twitter), chances are good that you haven't heard the news.

Ultrasound from 6/17/2011, Baby's ETA 2/2/2012

I'm growing a person. While we are EXTRA excited with Thrilled Sauce on the side, the actual growing of the person has been more or less uneventful. It's tedious to complain about the side effects of pregnancy, so I'll spare you. You're welcome.

I did have the following discussion with one of the nurses the day of the ultrasound:

Me: I don't understand why I'm feeling so LOUSY. I do yoga four times a week, I eat nutritious, homemade food that I cook MYSELF from scratch. I should feel AMAZING.
NurseMotherofFour: Yeah... It's good that you're excercising and eating well. It just doesn't work like that.
Me: Well, it should.
NurseMotherofFour: [Uproarious laughter.]

Shortly after that, we went into the room where the movie magic was going to happen. I had this idea, again, that it would be this incredibly special appointment- and it *is*, because there is PROOF that we MADE A PERSON- but it was really just a more public pelvic exam. With extra toys. And a short film at the end.

So, they show us the "baby" with the heartbeat, and really, it just looked like a flickering kidney bean to me. With a yolk sac. I wasn't really expecting little fingers and toes, but I also wasn't expecting... a legume.

Dr. Stirrups (my OB) pointed out that the flickering was a strong heartbeat, and oh look, there's the yolk sac. Yolk sac. As in chickens, rays, and SHARKS have yolk sacs. I nodded at the appropriate times, but in my head, all I could think was "YOLK SAC. BABY SHARK."

Andrew and I left, and over lunch we had the "which gender are you hoping for?" discussion. Andrew pointed out the benefits of having a girl, the benefits of having a boy, and then concluded that he was just excited we were having a baby.

When he asked what my gender preference was, I answered, "As long as it's not a shark, I'll be happy. I'm not prepared to parent a shark."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bonus protein- apple edition

I may have mentioned in a previous post that our yard is positively rich with fruit trees- we have more than a dozen various trees/bushes, all of which produce fruit. Considering the tiny plot of land we have, it's pretty excellent.

Among the trees, we have two varieties of apples growing, which are starting to ripen now. On Tuesday, all I wanted was an apple. I wanted an apple in that crazy, obsessive way that I have always craved *specific* foods. So, I ventured out into my yard in the heat, and picked two apples. One for me, one for Mom (who was making lunch).

We don't use pesticides in our yard, and other than some homemade compost to supplement the dirt, we don't use any fertilizer. (By "we", I am assuming the royal "we". I don't do any work in the yard, other than the occasional fruit-picking task.) You could consider our fruit organic, I suppose.

Being that we don't use pesticides, our fruit is occasionally does not  have the most pristine appearance. It sometimes has been taste tested by a bird, a squirrel, or a worm. For quality control, of course. The trees produce a LOT of fruit, and I am not petty enough to begrudge the local fauna a nibble here and there.

(Don't get Andrew started on the battle with the squirrels for the loquats. Last year, I caught him in the yard hurriedly eating loquats off of the tree, and laughing in triumph at the squirrels whom he had finally bested after two years of not getting a single loquat off of our tree. I don't judge.)

I brought the apples in, washed them in the sink, and took a paring knife to the "pre-tasted" section of each apple, and carved out the tunneling. Nobody poked their head out, so I took my apple to the couch where I fired up The Secret Life of the American Teenager on the TiVo (because there is something deeply, deeply wrong with me), and cheerfully munch away on my apple.

Towards the end of the apple, as I went to take a big bite, I saw movement. As I glanced down, I saw the former occupant of my apple frantically protesting his eviction. In a very wormy way, of course.

I shrieked in a way that is normally reserved for horror movies- when the monster (predictably) jumps out and grabs a character, that shriek. Niki, ever my diligent protector, climbed onto my lap to try to figure out what I had shrieked about.  (Fun fact: If I watch a movie that makes me shriek, he'll growl at the TV until I tell him everything is okay. He's a good dog.)

Someone who is more woman than I am would have simply tossed the Very Hungry Ex-Occupant of the apple into the compost and soldiered on, but alas, I am only a weak woman. I can't hunt my own food, and frankly, while I can cope with an ex-creepy crawly on my apple, I don't want food that has been walked all over in front of me. It's a real shortcoming of character on my part, I know.

After assuring Niki that I wasn't in any imminent danger from my apple, I walked it over to the compost bin, worm-and-all, and dropped it in. Since I normally eat everything on the apple (but the stem), I got a strange look from Mom when I tossed what appeared to be a perfectly good couple of bites in the compost bucket.

"There was ... unexpected protein in my apple," I explained. "Still kicking. Eat yours carefully."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Comedy of Errors - A review

Event: The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare Santa Cruz

Cost: Our tickets were comp'ed, but you can buy yours here (Tickets range from $14-$50)

Antipholus of Ephesus (Mike Ryan, left) bestows orders on his servant, Dromio of Ephesus (Brad DePlanche, right) in Shakespeare Santa Cruz's 2011 production of "The Comedy of Errors."

The review:

I'm going to start this review by saying that this isn't a play I've read or seen before. I would like to thank my high school AP English teacher for pointing out that Shakespeare's work isn't meant to be read, it was meant to be watched. So there.

The play starts with a one-man-band (Jonathan Shue) providing ambient music, and Carly Cioffi playing an Adelaide-esque director, scrambling to put together a skeleton cast for this play- seven players playing twenty roles. Totally do-able.

Most of the initial exposition is brilliantly accomplished using an overhead projector, which is ridiculously funny and incredibly effective. All of the cast-stretching methods were equally funny and effective- using glasses to differentiate between twins, quick (and occasionally incomplete) costume changes- it was all comic gold. Especially if - like me - you have the sense of humor of a (not very sophisticated) 12-year-old boy.

Without giving too much away, if you like slapstick, absurdist humor, or dudes in dresses, you'll enjoy this show. The *one* slight issue I had with the play was Susan Engbrecht's performance (who played Adriana). It felt like she wasn't familiar enough with the script to do more than really yell her lines and beat her castmates with a purse. I'm not saying that I could have done a better job, but the caliber of her castmates was pretty high, and she stood out as a considerably weaker performer.

The only other *slight* disappointment is that this isn't being performed in the Festival Glen. (I would attend a reading of the phone book in the Glen, for the record.) 

Despite my love of the Glen, this play is still totally worth attending. If you're in the mood for a good date play, this is a great way of spending an evening- especially if you grab a nice dinner first.

(To get your Festival Glen fix, you'll have to attend another show. Fortunately for you, I'll be reviewing all the shows this season.)