Joseph O'Brien 9 a.m., Aug. 17
The Old Globe: Room with a View of Hell
I ended up going to see A Room with a View at The Globe this weekend. I was thinking about writing a rant but I’ll tone it down a bit and just say I hated it.
I hated it on every single level from the libretto to the music to the costumes to the casting to the directing to the sets. What I mean by hate is that it should never have been put on stage. Okay, this is a rant.
Why did I hate it so much? Let’s not fool ourselves and say this was an adaptation of the novel by E.M. Forster. This was an adaptation of the 1985 Merchant Ivory film—a film that I love.
If a company is going to adapt one of the best acted films of all time with artists like Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, and Daniel Day Lewis, then they better be ready to be compared to the film.
There were no Edwardian characters on the stage. This was A Room with a View of High School Musical or, as Eddie Izzard would say, A Room with a View of Hell.
The entire show was immature and silly. The endearing English spinsters, the Miss Allens, were played by men and were neither endearing nor funny. I kept thinking that this show was written by, directed by and acted by people who have no culture.
The two leads, George and Lucy appeared to be children playing grown-up and they both had mean little voices. Neither made a sound all night that could have been considered pretty, let alone beautiful.
Then I realized it. I was commiserating with Cecil the misanthrope. In the second act I caught myself thinking, “Yes, Cecil, get them! I hate these people too.”
There were two exceptions. Glenn Seven Allen was a solid singer in the role of Italiano. Jacquelynne Fontaine in the role of Ragazza was tremendous. I thought she had the best voice I’ve heard at The Globe. I looked at her bio and lo and behold, she’s an opera singer. Her singing didn’t come off as operatic in this show; it just came off as nice.
This show should have been an update of A Room with a View. It would have made more sense to go in the direction of Rent which was an adaption of La Boheme or Miss Saigon which was an adaptation of Madama Butterfly.
However, the audience loved it. They stood on their feet and applauded and congratulated themselves for picking a great show to go to.
All I could think was that this show emphasized the disparity of culture in our culture. I think it has always been this way and always will be.
There will always be people like Cecil who wrap their identity in art, culture and music and who look down on those who don’t” get it”. Cecil will always be the minority. There will always be people like George and Lucy who don’t “get it” and they will always be the majority.
The temptation is to take sides. There are no sides. For Cecil to belittle the uncultured helps no one. For Cecil to be vilified as an insufferable prig also helps no one.
So why am I so reluctant to let the audience enjoy A Room with a View? I guess I don’t really care if the audience liked it. That’s fine.
What about my hating it? Sometimes it’s just more fun to be honest about one’s response to something. We are rarely allowed to hate anything that is in the arts because we want the arts to always be great.
Guess what? They’re not.
Warning: this clip uses the "F" word about 40 times or so.
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