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Carving Courtesans and Classics

I played tourist last night with M&M, my sweet-as-candy houseguests. We took a stroll through the East End of town on a Jack the Ripper walking tour.

A chilly, drizzly evening set the stage for a terrific tale of murder, mystery and mayhem, led by one Mr. Ripper's foremost authorities. He's a great tour guide .. and an even better storyteller. And patient to a fault with the yobs who ask stupid questions (when they're not sneaking into private conversations) about the historicial accuracy of graphic novels.

Um gee ... novel = fiction, fiction = made up, made up = ....

(note that I have nothting against graphic novels, nor the majority of people I've met who read them)

In other "tick the tourist box" story-telling news, we went to the Globe on Saturday night to see The Tempest. With three (count 'em) actors. Why only three? The answer to that is, like Jack the Ripper, an unsolved mystery.

I found the lack of a full cast to be challenging (not that there's anything wrong with that). I also thought many of the artistic choices were more like an esoteric grad school exercise than making the Bard's work accessible to the masses.

As a friend of mine put it, "Shakespeare was the Steven Spielberg of his day" (I'm guessing more Raiders than Schindler's List) ... the popular entertainment of its time.

Contradicting that, I read something in the program that Mark Rylance said, and I paraphrase, our plays are not meant to appeal to the logical mind.

Yes, I agree that art does not have to be (nor should it necessarily be) logical. It can mean (espcially in poetry, abstract painting, and song) different things to different audiences. Art can and should spark your imagination and be a catalyst for your own thinking.

However, in the case of this stormy production, I think the kids at The Globe were just having a go with the audience. We're bored with convention so we're going to design something arty and and deliberately obscure, to show we're smarter than you are. Shakespeare as performance art. Blah. 17th-century Speilberg or not, I don't think this was the intention of the artist.

Maybe I'm just creating a tempest in a tea pot. But being Mr. Brightside, I did get a nice new sewer rat hand puppet out of the deal. He's lovely.

Oh well, if I just wanted the story with some good visuals, maybe I should have gotten the graphic novel.