So it seems the kids from Fame (who, by the way, are now eligible for AARP) have gotten together with Cyndi Lauper and a couple writers from the early days of Saturday Night Live to adapt Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Guthrie.
That, and I suppose Joe Dowling had a hand in it, too.
This is a wild, colorful, aggressively sexual production. And by that, I don’t mean sexy. "Sexy," to me, is nuanced and flirtatious, suggestive, tempting, a little bit hidden. Sexual is in your face. It’s full frontal, bumping and grinding. It’s Ground Zero. It’s Rich Goldsmith‘s headlines. It’s Namir Smallwood‘s Puck in a glittering coral codpiece.
This is not to say I didn’t like the play. There were wonderful dance numbers, great (skimpy) costumes, and a fabulous sparkly egg in which Titania and Bottom the ass get it on. I enjoyed the Guthrie’s production for what it was: grand spectacle.
But I did miss the air of sweetness and optimism that typically wafts through Midsummer Night’s Dream. This is a play I associate with whimsy and tentative romance and the suspension of disbelief. It is, in my experience (which involves seeing it perhaps five other times on stages including the former Guthrie’s and studying it in Stratford-upon-Avon) a story about the mischievous yet goodnatured spirit world that helps guide the loves and lives of mortals. It contains a play within a play — which was executed beautifully in the Guthrie’s current production as wry slapstick — and a layering of comical missed chances, magic, and a sense that everyone will be rightfully paired in the end.
Contrast that with Dowling’s modern vision: An alien landscape in which sci-fi fairies drop from the sky and prod underwear-clad couples to lurch from love to lust and back to love again.
If you go for this sort of thing, I urge you to see it and stop by Cue on your way up for a glass of Flor de Pingus 2005. This Spanish red from the Ribera del Duero region is fruity and floral on the nose. But it tastes completely different than it smells: earthy, plummy, and HOT. I mean, this wine scorches on the way down your throat; it’s dry on the tongue, and the finish is pure whisky.
Flor de Pingus is like a well-built Spanish guy in tight leather. . . .You know, someone old enough to know what he’s doing but young enough to do it well. At 14.8% alcohol and a little more than $100 a bottle, it costs about the same as two tickets to the show.
But this wine is really sexy, not just sexual. It has shades and nuances, and an impish, spiritual gleam. Which is, if you ask me, well worth the price of admission.