Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cleveland Play House: Emma

Being familiar with Ms. Austen's work in name only, I can't comment on how faithful Play House Artistic Director Michael Bloom's adaption may or may not be. Likewise, this lack of familiarity lead me into the theater with no expectations or conception of what was to come.

As should be expected from the Play House the set was well-done and visually appealing. While entertaining and quite humorous -- there were a couple young women on the opposite side of the house who were a veritable laugh track for the first act -- I felt with the exception of the core Emma-the-Matchmaker there wasn't much in the way of character development in the first act, with most of it piled into the span of about 30 minutes during the second act. There were plenty of awkward male/female interactions, which I could relate quite well to; yet there seemed to be almost a vacuum of chemistry.

Unfortunately the performance was marred by a variety of technical issues of various conspicuity--the most glaring of which resulted in the sudden substitution of dance music with a most unmusical squealing. While the actors made a valiant attempt to cover after a stunned moment, the remainder of this scene made nearly no sense. One actor in particular seemed shaken by this and audibly stumbled over several lines through the remainder of the performance.

Based on my recent, incredibly confusing, interactions with the fairer sex perhaps Emma's advice to Harriet early in Act I provides some insight:

I lay it down as a general rule, Harriet, that if a woman doubts as to whether she should accept a man or not, she certainly ought to refuse him. If she can hesitate as to 'Yes,' she ought to say 'No' directly.
Though my initial though is to assume that this would relate to marriage rather than a cup of coffee, perhaps this is still the common thought and perhaps I am delivering some reason for hesitation (but what?)


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