June 30, 2003

Shakespeare's "Henry V" in the Park (still in previews) is a timely Dada triumph!

...and will appeal to the smart-ass New York congnoscenti.

This is great entertainment, not least for the jumbled-up anachronisitic mixing of media and particularly for the hilarious treatment of the French! You have to be there for this bust on the French.

Liev Schreiber -- superb -- is way more Prince Hal than Kenneth Branagh was. His baritone is perfect King Harry and his English accent is extremely adequate -- most Americans botch Shakespeare awefully. Ken was just too mousey looking...too much of an actorly, directorly, producerly smarty-pants.


New Yorkers -- smarting well from having some Egyptians and Saudis together run a couple of airbuses into our twin egos -- have a unique dis-taste this year for the people who are French and anything that may come from France, so vile, narcissistic, inward was the French response to a vulnerable New York. No surprise then that appetites in New Amsterdam for Burgundy, bread & brie were off. There were times we overheard the same shouting match on the corner of 86th & Columbus:

Joe: If it wasn't for us, you'd be speaking German!

Francois: If it wasn't for us, you'd be speaking English!

(We deserve eachother.)

My biase is unquestionable. Having spent the formative years not a gob's distance from King's Road, I am more than an Anglo-phile, rather an English nationalist with a US passport (& David Beckham fan). So my reaction to any half-attempt at Henry 5 is shivers, goose-bumps, tears and a swelling sense of well-being. A perfect Elizabethan yob am I, content to minimize the more ambiguous, Machiavelian Henry and take the heroics at full measure (-- same with W, our Prince Hal, in the Iraq thing).

I could swear there was a guy in the nose-bleed section at the Delacorte, along with me, laughing his ass off -- great gutteral guffaws. It was undoubtedly the ghost of Marcel Duchamp, the only Frenchman in on this very special New York joke.


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