Thursday, January 22, 2004

January 19-- LONDON

Monday afternoon, we nipped out to London for a play. For a couple days leading up to our excursion, I thought of little else. When I was in grade 6 I was in the musical Oliver...having played the little orphan boy wandering the streets of London way back then, all of the pictures that I had in my head of London way back then surfaced in my mind, and I was very eager to
walk on the streets on which the play was set. I know, a fictional book set a couple hundred years ago, it's not likely that I would see anything of what Dickens was writing. But, the ideas were swimming around my head.
When we exited the bus (mind the steps, cheers!) we were in the commercial section, high rise modern buildings, nothing that resembled the London in my head. We strolled up to the gates of Buckingham Palace, quite an inconspicuous group of tourists, swarming with cameras. As soon as we walked up the two guards at the front took it upon themselves to show
off, and so began the rigorous process of picking up the rifle, banging it on the ground, putting it back on the shoulder, pointing it, changing its position, stomping feet and flailing arms, and then walking back and forth. Dusk was beginning to fall and our play started in an hour, so Madeline whisked us off to gawk at Big Ben as soon as we caught sight of it, and then Westminster Abbey, and up into the pickpocketing zone. We had no pockets picked, but we did almost lose Michelle. There was a sign at one of the theatres announcing tickets on sale for STOMP- I almost went in and bought one.
With three minutes before the performance began, we arrived at the National Theatre. Our purpose there: watch a four and a half hour performance of 'Mourning becomes Electra.' This play is written by O'Neil, based on Euripides' Oerestia a greek tragedy from waaay back when. I'm not sure I've ever encountered a plot more tragic- in the original play, the main
family is related to Helen of Troy. Her sister, Clytaemnestra, marries Agamemnon, who is a general in this nine year war over Helen. To make a long story short, Agamemnon kills his oldest daughter so that his ship would sail (thus says the soothsayer), while he is away at battle his wife takes up a lover and when Agamemnon returns home she poisons him, their son kills her, he goes mad from the guilt, and kills himself, and in the end we are left with Electra, the youngest daughter. In addition to all this, we have the Oeidipus and Electra complexes that the children and the parents have. This production is based during the American Civil War, and it basically all transfers over except there is no older daughter that was killed, there is only Orwen (the son) and Lavinnia (Electra). These two, along with their parents, compose the most
incestuous family that I have ever heard of. The mother and the son love eachother and have one or two passionate kisses, the father and daughter love eachother and have very extended goodnights, and the son and the daughter become *very* close, quite a bit closer than the relationship in Moon Tiger, and it's all quite sordid. But the production was amazing, the actors were phenomenal (although it is quite amusing to listen to British actors try to imitate american accents!), and the set was one of the best I've every seen... the way they transformed it...amazing. Definitely a positive experience, despite having watched two people being murdered and two people killing themselves and the last one entombing herself in her house.
Insanity is the one word that I was left with in the very last scene. In about ten seconds of no dialogue, they very clearly and cleverly left that word with the audience. I can't wait until next Monday, we head back to London!

No comments: