Shakespeare’s Sonnets

I go to a Robert Wilson performance for all the usual reasons: lighting, costuming, his signature movements and gestures, his signature sounds and vocalizations. Therefore, I was not at all disappointed. I was thrilled to see this production. There were moments that I particularly enjoyed: When it was the aged, vain Queen Elizabeth who recited, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?,” I had to laugh because surely she saw herself as lovely and temperate even in her old age. I also chuckled when cupid’s arrow failed to reach her, for the same reason. And in one scene, I enjoyed seeing video from the film version of Wilson’s Deafman Glance on the monitors on stage. Overheard at intermission was a comment that the production was all surface and all over the place with no coherence, and that it was almost impossible to focus on the sonnets themselves. I totally understand how people might experience a Wilson performance and feel that way, and that’s okay. Not everyone is going to like every piece BAM stages, and that’s what keeps BAM fresh and interesting. Even though I loved the performance, I do agree it was a bit long for what it was (the same feel could have been accomplished in maybe 2 hours instead of 3. And I also agree that trying to read the surtitles took me away from the tableaux on stage. But it was thrilling hearing the Bard’s words in German, so it was worth it. The Berliner Ensemble and entire cast deserved every minute of their long standing ovation tonight. And kudos to Rufus Wainwright for the excellent music as well.

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