Between the statistics course last week, all of the butterfly eggs and hatching larvae in the lab at the moment and the general level of nuttiness around here right now, I’m tired of talking butterflies. What to do when you are feeling uninspired? Taking a tip from friends who blog, I’ll do a top ten list, completely unrelated to science and nature. Here are my top ten favorite plays ever (in no particular order):
1. The Glass Menagerie
I didn’t go to the movies, I went someplace much further. Unfortunately, bad productions abound. In capable hands, Tennessee Williams’ masterpiece can still reduce me to sniffles.
2. The Fifth of July
I’d want to be friends with almost anyone in Lanford Wilson’s cast of oddball characters. Warm and moving.
3. The Tempest
Why The Tempest out of all of Shakespeare’s comedies? I’ve always suspected that my love for this play is partly at an unconscious level- appropriate for a play where Jungian archetypes are encountered around every corner. It’s also the source of the plot line for a science fiction film called Forbidden Planet with more than a passing nod to Freud (monsters of the Id). It has entered my dreams on more than one occasion.
How does one even begin to discuss Lorca? My Spanish is at a level where understanding the original language is a struggle, but it’s worthwhile. This is Lorca at his most lyrical. A Spanish peasant named Yerma struggles with being barren. The language of the play could only have been written by a poet of Lorca’s caliber. Best appreciated untranslated.
Is jealousy the perfect subject for a tragic play? Is Iago the best villain ever? Picking a favorite from Shakespeare is nearly impossible- I’ll go with Othello because of my strong affirmation to both of these questions.
6. Huis Clos
Once upon a time, I could read No Exit in Sartre’s original French. Those days are long gone, but the play remains an amazingly crafted existentialist exercise.
7. School for Scandal
The only play on my list that I have actually performed in. Mr. Crabtree, at your service. This was during my days in the gay alliance (AKA drama club) in college. A British comedy of manners from the late 18th century, the humor still hits home.
8. The Lady’s Not for Burning
Written in the 1940s, but set in the 15th century. Is Jenette Jourdemayne, the lady of the title, a witch? Accused of turning the town drunk into a dog, she seems wearily resigned to burning, in contrast to soldier Thomas Mendip who is just weary. Mendip is attempting suicide by trying to convince the town fathers that he has committed murder. The two lovers (of course they fall for each other) encounter a misdirection of concern by the town fathers eerily reminiscent of the Rovian White House.
9. Our Town
Yes, it’s sappily, sloppily sentimental. Yes there is a danger of going into insulin shock during the performance. I guess this one’s kind of a guilty pleasure for me. I don’t care- I like it.
10. Blithe Spirit
Delightfully silly in a way that only Coward can be. I’ve never been inclined towards drag at all, but were I ever to do it, I think I’d want to channel Madame Arcati.