Shakespeare In The Park

Bryan and I were planning to camp out (yes, on the streets of NYC) for free tickets to Shakespeare in the Park this weekend. Only after Bryan’s long week at work combined with fairly crummy weather we opted to postpone our little adventure. Meanwhile, we thought we’d try our luck at entering our names in the Shakespeare Lottery. Now I kid you not, the next day we WON! Free tickets! Our favorite four letter word: FREE! At 1:01pm I received an email stating, “Congratulations! You have been selected to receive two tickets to tonight’s performance of All's Well That Ends Well at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park”. We couldn’t have asked for better luck. So exciting! Thus we experienced the infamous Shakespeare in the Park. We picked up our tickets just before 6pm, then strolled about the Great Lawn and Turtle Pond as day slipped into dusk.

Then, to the Delacorte Theater. Fantastic! Central Park is truly the most magical setting for a night at the theater! Unfortunately, the stage and everything within the theater is apparently copyrighted so I have no pictures to post, though I hardly think a mere picture or two could ever do the playhouse justice. Still, it was entirely picturesque. Belvedere Castle stands as the backdrop to the minimally elegant set. The costumes, sound, and lighting were pristine. I particularly enjoyed seeing the play portrayed in a much later time period, requiring the props and attire to be somewhere between old fashioned and modern. And lucky for us, it had rained a bit earlier cooling the temperature and cutting the humidity that provided the most pleasant conditions. My favorite part, however, were the fireflies that garnished the audience as dusk turned to night. Their flickering glow that adorned the crowd seemed even to give extra life to the production. Like I said, magical.

The play itself has been described by critics as being both a comedy and tragedy. I couldn’t agree more. I have never laughed harder, nor have I been so distraught with an ending. First laughter: William Shakespeare was hilarious. RIP Bill. And on top of the already comical work, I loved how cleverly they inserted contemporary nuances and personalities that most definitely spiced it up. My sides still ache from laughing. As for the tragedy that All’s Well That Ends Well…perhaps I should share the plot. Plainly, a poor girl loves her rich master’s son who’s gone away to serve an ailing king. Desiring to be near him she goes to the king and uses her skill to cure him. In order to repay her, the king consequentially allows the girl to choose whomever she desires to wed. Obviously she chooses her love (her master’s son). This son is appalled by her low station and poor origins, but is forced to marry her. Then directly following the wedding he runs off to join the war telling his wife that he will never truly be her husband until she wears the family heirloom ring he sports, and is pregnant with his child…both of which he scoffs will never happen. Confused? Sorry if so. Going on. After her husband flees, the heartbroken girl is determined to become his true wife thus she fakes her death and secretly follows him to the battlefront. There she finds he is trying to woo an innocent maid who has no interest in him as she knows he is married. The heartbroken wife and the maid then team up to trick her husband. What goes down: the maid tricks him into giving her the ring then invites him to her chamber at midnight. Come midnight he unknowingly beds his wife. A bit sketch, I know. So in the end, wife gets preggers and has the ring and the husband vows to always love her. Now, I don’t know about you but if my husband had just cheated on me in his heart (even if I were in the place of the maid) I would not be feeling too happy, nor trusting of his “love”. Not cool bro. Not cool. That being said, how not fun would that be to be forced to marry someone you don’t love? Thus the tragedy. Although they portrayed him as truly being happy in the end, I really don’t think such happiness could be genuine in the play of reality. Who knows.

Another word. I know Shakespeare is a masterful playwright and all, but I can’t help but think the story somewhat resembles the Bible story of Tamar and Judah. In that story, doesn’t the widow Tamar dress as a harlot to trick Judah into giving her children for her dead husband? (Note: if I remember correctly laws then required next of kin to take such widows to wife and Judah was that next of kin. Thus he was at fault for not already wedding her. Then again, it’s been a while since I’ve studied that part of the Old Testament so don’t hold me to anything.) And doesn’t she prove she is not an adulterer by producing Judah’s ring (or token of some sorts) that he gave her as payment? I’m just saying, the stories have some stark similarities and I’m pretty sure the Bible was written first. I’m calling Shakespeare on that one. That’s all.

And the subway home…

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