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June 02, 2006
Upon seeing another production
of "The Lady's Not For Burning"...
A disillusioned soldier decides
to commit altruistic suicide by My high school drama
confessing to a crime a woman teacher was very
has been accused of commiting impressed with this
by witchcraft. one sentence summary.
I hope you appreciate it.
A 1948 play by
Christopher Fry. It's possible I was
Essentially an plagiarizing the
Elizabethan "TV Guide" though,
pastiche. at least with the
The best Shakespearian soldier".
Comedy ever not written
The program notes for
I liked this this production name
play a lot drops Marlowe harder
when I was a than the big S, but I Oh, Shakespeare?
teenager, and think I've seen that That's so
watched it quirk before and don't middle class.
multiple times trust it. If you're
on PBS... really hip,
you dig Marlowe.
Last year I That was a version
saw a free with Richard Chamberlin
performance; playing the lead
and this year character, Thomas Mendip.
a friend was
appearing in One of the "Great
yet another Performances" series,
production. which in those days
presented some truly
(Melanie Nelson, great performances of
who, looking very some truly great plays. KNUCKLE
appeared as Complex language and
Richard, the humor -- Elizabethian
young clerk.) pastiche -- but
there's a tendency
that pegs it as more
Dangerbaby wondered At one point,
what I liked about Nicholas calls his
this particular play older brother
so much. Humphery a
What do I But then,
(or did I) Shakespeare's
like about historical
it so much? veracity was
It's admittedly a
very talky play
under any circum-
And in the
seen there were E.g. some lines only
some problems in really make sense
the staging that as asides to another
might've been character.
fixable in other
settings... ("Nice noose!
If there's no way
to get the characters
near each other, then
you have to force it.
Okay, so what?
The style of the Mendip
character appeals to me
of course: loud ranting,
alternating with sardonic
jokes, critical of the The first time Dangerbaby
the corruption of the age. and I saw this, the moment
Mendip launched into his
angry ranting she turned
to me and gave me a look
like "No wonder you like
The central issue this play."
yourself to living
in a grossly
The general progression
of the story is a plot
that has always appealed
A suicidal disgust
gradually brought More "Cassablanca"
back to engagement than "Maltese Falcon".
with the world.
Yes, it is romantic love that
overcomes this romantic suicidal What might you
impulse; which might be trite, press into
but ties in well with the traditional service otherwise?
form of the Shakespearian commedy.
I would suggest
of one person's
Mendip's monologue, pondering
the moonlit garden.
Why is this particular
conflagration of physical
sensations perceived as
The interminable tumbling of the great grey
Main of moonlight, washing over
The little oyster-shell of this month of April;
Among the raven-quills of the shadows
And on the white pillows of men asleep;
The night's a pale pasture land of peace,
And something condones the world incorrigibly.
But what, in fact, is this vaporus charm?
We're softened by a nice conglomeration
Of the world's uneven surface, refraction of light,
Obstruction of light, condensation, distance,
And that sappy upshot of self-centered vegetabalism,
The trees of the garden. How is it we come
To see this as a heaven in the eye?
Why should we hawk, and spit out ecstasy
As though we were nightingales, and call these quite
Casual degrees and differences
Beauty? What guile recommends the world
And gives our eyes a special sense to be
Deluded above all animals? ...
-- Act III,
p. 88, Dramatists Play Services ed.
In general the dialog is immensely
clever, witty... no detail is ever
thrown away, it's always returned to,
The live productions I've
seen have been inferior on
"I shall chalk your moment of most grounds with the
hesitation across the walls of broadcast one I was
hell." familiar with as a
teenager, but there's one
Or "purgatory" in point that's an obvious
this production, and exception: the performance
I would guess in the of the character "Skip".
In the PBS version,
skip is such a broad
parody of a drunk that
his lines are drowned
out by the roaring
drawling schtick of
I had to read the
script to understand:
"Peace on earth,
and good tall women!"
All you need to do is
enunciate that one
clearly to get a laugh,
and that much the local
productions have gotten
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