Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Street: Frequently Asked Questions

... And one of them is: "What the ?!"

This is a bit fascinating, and one of these pieces you can chew over for days afterward. An actor in despair succumbs to the voices in his head, and all of them are eponymous characters from Shakespeare's tragedies. Hamlet is a foppish wuss, Macbeth is an "I'll do you, Jimmeh!" Glaswegian, Lear is an Alzheimic dodderer who was supposed to stay at the pub like he was told, Othello is a gullible buffoon with an eye for the ladies. The actor himself is indiscernible.

It's a tour de force from Hurst, who switches between characters flawlessly and keeps each completely distinguishable from the next. He cooks on stage, pratfalls, somersaults, sings, and wrestles himself both physically and philosophically, with such intensity and dexterity that you can't fail but be impressed. But ... How much sense it is all supposed to make? It's vastly entertaining, but what does it all mean?

I'm still not sure, especially when Othello introduces "the girls" (Ophelia, Desdemonia, and - oddly - Juliet). Sadly for me, co-author Hurst evaded my efforts to corner him a few days later at the Bugalugs Bum Thief and elicit some answers. (He also evaded the cast's attempts to get him up on stage, so I was in respectable company.)  And I haven't seen two reviews that quite agree, either.  The Barefoot Review has an interpretation that makes the most sense of any I've read - except that it doesn't exactly match the show I think I saw.

Which I suppose is the point of Frequently Asked Questions, and one reason I hope Hurst doesn't change the title of the show. (He is apparently considering rebranding it "To Be Or Not To Be", so that people attempting to unearth him via Google do not drown in a sea of how-to pages and information about local jazz bands).

Highlight for me was the moment where Macbeth tells Hamlet: "Think yer dark? I'll show yer f*cking dark" - and does so. And it's very true; both characters are tragic, but Macbeth is Metallica and Hamlet is My Chemical Romance. This is something to see - and then obsess about for a few days.

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