Richard III At The SupermarketMonday, June 21, 2010
Saturday night Rosemary and I went to Bard on the Beach and watched Jennifer Lines play Cleopatra in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. It is a difficult part for a woman and no matter how good Antony is (played well by Andrew Wheeler) Cleopatra is the real show. Harold Bloom calls this one of the best and most complex female parts because not only does Cleopatra have to play herself she also has to play playing herself. There are few really meaty female protagonists. One that comes to mind is Beatrice who is a really serious and principal part in Much Ado About Nothing. This play can be taken lightly as the comedy it is supposed to be but if one listens to the dialogue between Beatrice and Benedick one immediately notices that there is more meat to this play than meets the eye.
When one considers that both Much Ado About Nothing and Antony and Clepatra are performed on the same stage (on different days) and that Beatrice and Cleopatra are both played by Jennifer Lines ones begin to wonder if there is the possibility of some confusion. This confusion would be compounded in my eyes when you consider that John Murphy plays Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing and Alexas in Antony and Cleopatra. Could the right lines to the right man be uttered in the wrong play? "No," says Chrisopher Gaze (seen above as Richard III).
When I asked Gaze (the Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach) about this said something (with a smile on his face) like, “When you go to the supermarket in the morning you kind of know that that day you are so and so. On another day you will wake up knowing you are someone else in a different play.” Gaze went as far as saying that the actor in a part is sort of like placing a ticket in an ATM kind of machine and the ticket comes out programmed to help you be who you are supposed to be. In short he said that this is all very easy.
I am not sure if I can believe him. The fact is that I marveled at Jennifer Lines’performance in Much Ado About Nothing and then could not help being marveled again by her Cleopatra.
I am glad I don’t have to go to the supermarket and think, “If today is Tuesday and I am currently buying Swiss cheese I must be Cleopatra. It seems as you will soon find out it has all to do with a corset. (Hint read what Jennifer Lines herself will write about the subject on Wednesday!