Thursday, April 9, 2015

Review of Remy Bumppo's Travesties

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Travesties. It was by Tom Stoppard and it was directed by Nick Sandys. It was about Henry Carr (Jeff Cummings) who was remembering all the memories of his life when he was young when he was in a production of The Importance of Being Earnest that James Joyce (James Houton) directed in Zurich, Switzerland. He had gone to court with James Joyce because he paid for his own trousers and thought he should be paid more for that. Tristan Tzara (Greg Matthew Anderson), who was a Dadaist, made poetry by drawing different words from other poems out of a hat and was in Zurich at the same time the show was going on. And also, Lenin (Keith Neagle) was there with his wife Nadya (Jodi Kingsley) and he wants for communism to thrive and he is trying to get back in to Russia to help with the revolution. This play is about a bunch of different famous people who all get together for only a few days and about Henry Carr's memory of them all. It kind of puts two stories together, one that really happened and one that didn't. I think that this is a great show. It is strange, but in a really great way.

Travesty means copying something that isn't yours and making fun of it. What Stoppard travesties in this is The Importance of Being Earnest, James Joyce and his writing, Lenin's life, and Carr’s actual experience that he has. From The Importance of Being Earnest he travesties the love interests. I really love the song that Cecily (Meg Warner) and Gwendolyn (Kelsey Brennan) sing together about how they both seem to have the same fiancee. And also at the end of song, when they find out that they have different fiancees, they find they have feelings for each other now that they find that they have both been wronged. And I loved how they made Cecily a librarian, because usually she is just an innocent girl who just likes to pick flowers. But in this she is a very smart and educated communist librarian. I liked how, instead of having a cigarette case that said Earnest, this had a library card that said Tristan. It seemed funny but it was also a very big travesty of Earnest because it didn't take all of it, it just took some of it. I also loved how they kept saying "Not Earnest, the other one" when they keep meaning Algernon.

James Joyce at the beginning was travestied because he was dressed up like a leprechaun and he talked in an exaggerated Irish accent and he talked in limericks. I haven't read any of his books, but I know he wrote Ulysses because my mom read it and she kept telling me how weird it was. But then, also, being weird is not the same as being a limerick. And when Tristan Tzara was telling him all about Dadaism and how it is actually poetry, Joyce put on his hat and started picking off the words that had fallen on his head. I thought that was pretty cool because I stayed for the talkback they talked about how they decided not to have him doing magic tricks because it would be too distracting. I think it would have been more distracting, but they still didn't have him just standing there doing nothing but talking. He was talking about Dadaism and how it wasn't really poetry and he was picking off the pieces of the Dada poem like it was a disease. So what he was doing was less distracting than him just pulling a dove out of his coat because it had to do more with what was actually going on and wasn't so random. Joyce is very weird, but he is not random. I actually liked some of the Dada poems because they put a bunch of beautiful words together and they still actually made some sense.

Lenin seemed like one of the nicest men in the show because he loved his wife and his wife loved him. Even though the words are probably his actual words, it wasn't exactly like reading his letters because it wasn't in Russian and also because his accent was used a little bit for comedy. Like when he said, "the vig" he put on this very 80's style blond wig. The wig was supposed to disguise him as a Swedish deaf-mute so then he didn't actually have to speak Swedish! Lenin and Nadya seemed like they were in love with each other and they talked about going to the theater and his favorite shows. And I think that that is very sweet. And they started talking about how Beethoven made him cry, and you could actually see his tears swelling up, and I thought that was beautiful.

This is a travesty of Henry Carr's life because he is saying he was the rich man in the embassy and in his thoughts his boss Bennett (Scott Olson) was his servant. Bennett always told him about what was happening in the news lately and he would always have such a descriptive version of the story, like how he had every single detail about what was happening with the revolution just in his mind. I thought that was funny. I think that it is cool how they made a travesty of his own life and because he was old he forgot some of the parts of his own life that were very important. Like how he wasn't the master of the house. He is confusing Algernon's life with his own.

People who would like this show are people who like Swedish deaf-mutes, leprechaun poets, and not Earnest--the other one. I think people should definitely go see this show. I had a lot of fun and it was very strange and interesting. I feel like I actually learned a lot from it; it was very funny, but it was also educational.

Photos: Johnny Knight

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