Monday, March 30, 2009

Overthinking Things

By Russ Bickerstaff
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While it IS possible to over-think things, sooner or later the final draft of a theatre review has to be submitted for publication and invariably that means that I don’t feel obligated to think about a show for much longer. This is not to say that I forget about it altogether, just that I don’t feel OBLIGATED to do so.

And so it is that I find myself over-analyzing what I wrote yesterday about one of the nicest surprises of the theatre season—UWM’s studio production of Dario Fo’s The Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Yes, I loved the wild energy of it, but it lacked some of the sophistication found in the script. By splitting the title character into a group of four and making the story flow across the stage in a much more kinetic way than described in Fo’s original script, the UWM production almost seemed to be attempting to spoon feed the audience the basic premise of the story, losing the finer subtleties in all of the excess details . . . and there IS something to be said for a production that builds on a script to turn it into something different . . . I can justify my enjoyment of what might seem like a wacky slapstick incarnation of a much more sophisticated script in that—if it WAS a more traditional production of the script, I’d’ve been happy with it as well. Since it was something unexpected, I ended up enjoying it even more . . . and that’s an interesting observation about the geometry of expectation . . .my job means that I’m researching plays before I see them, which can kind of make it difficult to be surprised by anything in a show . . . and part of the wonder of seeing theatre is seeing something new. UWM’s production of Accidental Death re-introduced me to that sense of wonder . . .

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