Shakespeare’s ‘Lost Play’ Cardenio fulfils
Clifford Graham: Cardenio is in many ways a fulfilling play and Roy Sergeant’s staging for the 2013 season at Maynardville will be remembered for some time. I suppose it makes perfect sense, before going into a review of the current production of Cardenio at the Maynardville Open Air Theatre, to touch on the origins of this play and why it is referred to as Shakespeare’s lost play. Director Roy Sargeant in his programme notes points out that the play is the product of research by Gregory Doran, currently the Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, rather than a long lost manuscript found in someone’s attic or buried under a pile of documents in an obscure English archive.
The original play was known to have been performed by the King’s Men (a London Theatre company) at the court of King James I as early as 1613. It is attributed to William Shakespeare and John Fletcher. The work was probably based on an episode of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote involving the character Cardenio, a young man who has been driven mad with love and betrayal and lives in the Sierra Morena. After 1613 the play seems to have disappeared and appears only sporadically under varying titles. No original text for the play survives.
However the play as it is presented using Gregory Doran’s text, re-imagined after William Shakespeare could be said to be in the style of Shakespeare. No matter, it is a very good play none the less. The synopsis of the play reads like a Mozart Opera, love triangles become foursomes with an evil don hell bent on seducing every vulnerable wench in sIght. Well yes, there is a lot of that, but there are some very human threads to the plot which enrich the story and keep the audience guessing throughout. It’s hard to be sure just how much of the play is the work of Messrs. Fletcher and Shakespeare, but perhaps it’s best to forget the complex provenance and just sit back and be entertained.
Set design by Dicky Longhurst is simple but effective. Wrought iron gates and window bars are reminiscent of Moorish architecture. Costume is detailed and for the most part accurate to the time. Roy Sargeant’s vision is clearly defined in the Spanish qualities that imbue the production. Light references to Catholic ritual, wild fiesta dances and obsessions of sex and death leave us in no doubt as to the plays’ Spanish temperament.
And of the ensemble? Some dazzling performances made Cardenio a pilgrimage I would have been happy to make on my knees. Francis Chouler’s Fernando, filled with menace and glimpses of a tyrant in the making, provides a pivot for the rest of the cast to react to. Jenny Stead’s Luscinda, filled with measured innocence, is charming, allowing audience sympathies to grow at each twist in the plot. Terence Bridget comes close to stealing the show with his sometimes comic, often bumbling take on the role of Don Bernardo, Luscinda’s father. Marcel Meyer as Pedro brings an air of reason to the plot.
But for me it’s the pairing of Armand Aucamp (Cardenio) with Francis Chouler (Fernando) that heightens the production as a whole. They were last seen together in Mary and the Conqueror (Artscape Spring Drama Season 2011). The chemistry between these actors seems to spur them on to greater performances.
Cardenio is in many ways a fulfilling play and Roy Sergeant’s staging for the 2013 season at Maynardville will be remembered for some time to come. Pack your picnic and make the pilgrimage. Cardenio is a must see! Cardenio is in rep with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Maynardville Open Air Theatre in Cape Town until 9 March.
Soulpepper knocks it out of the park with David Storey’s Home
Jack is tall, elegant and carries a cane. Harry is stockier, florid and more casually dressed. And they make conversation about everything and nothing — their wives, people’s names, Christmas, the army and air force, canes, beards and moustaches, and much more besides.
Their speech is clipped, filled with clichés and platitudes and chock-a-bloc with heavy pauses and non sequiturs.
Welcome to the remarkable world of David Storey’s Home, a magical play that’s been revived far too infrequently since it made its debut in 1970 (with a cast that included John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson.)
It’s not long before we meet two other characters (and I use the word advisedly).
There’s Kathleen, a flirty Cockney who is consumed by lust and aching feet and who giggles ridiculously at every possible double entendre. And there’s her friend, the sour, pugnacious Marjorie. Raucous and earthy, they are a sharp contrast to the men (and considerably less prone to tears).
Dissect the word “home” and you come up with a number of possible meanings. It’s your home and native land, your country. It’s the roof over your head, the place where you live with your family. And paradoxically, it’s a place where they put you when you are too old, dangerous or mentally ill to live with your family.
Only a Grinch would give much more away about this play. Indeed, much of the considerable joy of the occasion is the audience’s slowly growing comprehension of the Five Ws — who, what, when, where and (possibly) why.
It’s also a mirror in which we can easily recognize the reflection of ourselves and the world in which we live — our home.
And it’s a fabulous piece for actors, demanding both a tight ensemble and individual flair, and the Soulpepper cast delivers on both counts.
Just watch Oliver Dennis, the slightly stiff, dapper and assertive Jack, interacting with Michael Hanrahan’s sensitive, seemingly more placid Harry. Or Brenda Robins’ superb Kathleen joshing and jousting with Maria Vacratis’ formidable Marjorie. Sharp technique, subtle pacing, vulnerability, and honesty — it’s all there.
Director Albert Schultz is in no rush and has allowed the text to breathe — wisely so. The speeches and the thoughts they contain may seem random and unconnected but are anything but.
TV programme to feature Dorset blacksmith’s work
Simon Grant-Jones is a contributor in the BBC4 programme ‘The Blacksmith’s Tale’ and a piece of ironwork that he made recently will feature in the film.
The Kingston Maurward College blacksmith and forgework tutor said: “When the BBC first called me, they just wanted information.
“They had no idea I was making this wrought iron screen.
“It was made for Kingston Maurward Gardens as a commission and is to reflect the period of Kingston Maurward House, around 1720.
“It just so happens that this fitted perfectly with the programme that the BBC was making on wrought iron.
“Traditional techniques are used throughout and everything is contemporary to the early 18th Century style of working.
“My inspiration for blacksmithing is a man named Robert Bakewell, who was working around 300 years ago.
“One day the producer called me again and said they would be reviewing a Bakewell piece in Derby, would I like to go?
“So we went to Derby and I reviewed the piece and hopefully that will be shown during the programme.
“The crew also came to another event at Finch Foundry, a water-powered forge in Devon, and that should be featured too.” The screen took around 450 hours of work during two years to complete.
Mr Grant-Jones was named Show Champion with the piece at the North Somerset Show last week.
He said: “This was the first of ten shows which will take place this year. At each show, the champion receives ten points and the reserve gets four. The points are added up over the whole series of shows and whoever has the most points will be named National Champion.
“I was National Champion in 2010 and I’ve been Reserve Champion twice. I’ve got off to a good start and it would be really nice to win again.”
The screen will be used as a show piece until September, when it will be permanently installed in the formal gardens at the college.
The programme is the third in the ‘Metalworks!’ series and will be shown tomorrow on BBC4 at 9pm.
L.A. Walks: Beachwood Canyon and the Hollywood sign
By Charles Fleming
This is a brisk city walk with a country feeling, starting high in Hollywood’s Beachwood Canyon and climbing almost to the base of the Hollywood sign. Along the way are fantastic views of the Hollywood Reservoir, some famous homes and a visit to some of the area’s secret public staircases.
Begin your walk in Beachwood Canyon, a mile or so north of Franklin Avenue on North Beachwood Drive. Park in the vicinity of the Beachwood Market, at the corner of Belden Drive, perhaps after a hearty breakfast at the Village Coffee Shop (2695 N. Beachwood Drive). Then head west on Belden and begin the ascent.
Watch for oncoming traffic on this narrow, winding road. Follow it to the tight switchback left onto Flagmoor Place, then bear left as Flagmoor, continuing to rise, turns into Durand Drive. On your right you’ll see, rising steeply, the stone walls of a Norman chateau. Turn right at the front gates of this structure and find the beginning of the fire road leading down toward the Hollywood Reservoir.
The chateau is an old Hollywood home once known as Wolf’s Lair. It was built for L. Milton Wolf, one of the original Hollywoodland real estate team who developed the Beachwood area and placed the famous sign on the mountain above. (Other Hollywoodland investors included former Los Angeles Times Publisher Harry Chandler and Pacific Electric Railway director Gen. M.H. Sherman, after whom Sherman Oaks is named.) It was later home to Debbie Reynolds and more recently was bought and remodeled by music maker Moby.
Follow the fire road downhill as the Hollywood Reservoir spreads out before you. At the T-intersection, turn right onto a wide path that is actually a defunct section of the old Mulholland Highway. (It used to curve down the hill and cross the dam before continuing on across the Cahuenga Pass. You may tread upon sections of old asphalt as you walk here.) The trail will be decorated now by cactus, agave, yucca and Spanish broom, a beautiful and sweet-smelling invasive weed hated by native plant enthusiasts. Climb a little as the trail narrows and bends, bearing always right and staying close to the hillside.
In time, the Hollywood sign and an enormous Mediterranean villa will appear. The massive 1926 structure is known as Castillo del Lago and used to be the residence for another music maven, Madonna. Before that, it was home to gangster Bugsy Siegel, who is said to have run an illegal gambling operation here.
The trail will approach Castillo del Lago and hug its walls as it rises to become a paved section of Mulholland and to meet Canyon Lake Drive. Turn left, and head downhill.
High up to the right is the famed Hollywood sign. High up to the left is a hillside vineyard, where grapes are grown for Hollywood’s only native winery, Hollywood Classic Wine, which cultivates grapes on six of its estimated 40 acres of property. (Bottles of its 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon cost $200, if you can get one. Only 100 cases were produced.)
Down and to the left is the Hollywood Reservoir, a man-made lake said to hold 2.5 billion gallons of water behind a dam dating from 1924. The dam and water storage scheme were designed by William Mulholland, whose visionary ideas formed the back story to the Roman Polanski movie classic “Chinatown.”
Follow Canyon Lake Drive down to a stop sign, at Tahoe Drive. To visit the lake itself, turn left here and walk downhill a couple of blocks. Then turn left and enter the gated pedestrian walkway around the lake. It’s just over 1.5 miles from this point to the dam.
Otherwise, walk straight on. Ignore the “No outlet” sign and climb Canyon Lake Drive until it terminates in a cul-de-sac backed by a white gate. Go around the gate and continue climbing on the wide path that hangs in the shadow of the Hollywood sign.
Now you will be closer to the abundant canyon wildlife. I’ve heard reports of deer and coyote along here, as well as varieties of lizards and snakes. Easier to spot are the cactus, yucca, sycamore and oak that grow on the lower slopes and the eucalyptus that tower high above.
The trail will eventually wind around and meet paved road — Mulholland Drive again. To get even closer to the Hollywood sign, or indeed to walk directly to it, turn left here and follow Mulholland. Stay to the left where Mulholland meets Ledgewood Drive and continue up and around. Mulholland will eventually run out of pavement and will meet Mt. Lee Drive. Staying always to the left, follow this trail until you find yourself above the famous lettered sign. You’ll be treated to fine views of the city, facing south, and the San Fernando Valley, facing north — with an unexpected bird’s eye view of the Mt. Sinai and Forest Lawn cemeteries.
If you’re not in the mood for that, turn right on Mulholland. Walk to the first corner, then turn left onto Durand Drive. Follow this down and around — watch your step as the road terraces — and appreciate the many strange hillside-hanging homes as you pass them. Dig the tiki art at 3220, the totem pole at 3092 and the geodesic dome home at 3158, said to be an original Buckminster Fuller residence, but … maybe not.
Just after the house at 2960, look carefully on the left for a wrought iron railing and a set of concrete steps. This is a public staircase. Take it, and descend between houses to emerge at a bend in Belden Drive. Turn left, follow Belden around a couple of corners and find another public staircase on the right.
This is a fine granite-and-concrete structure dating from 1928. It once had a stream of water running down the center of it, where flowers and succulents now grow. It also is popular with runners and climbers, some of whom you may see working their way up and down the risers.
Harvard’s Roles in Hollywood: Ivy League on the Silver Screen
With its sprawling campus, tree lined paths, wrought iron archways and beautifully bricked buildings, Harvard University has practically lent itself to the silver screen. From its renowned Harvard Yard to a perky blonde who hopes to impress her boyfriend by being accepted into Harvard Law School, America’s oldest institution of higher learning has procured various Hollywood roles. Here are movies that have been made possible thanks to Harvard University.
The Firm — The 1993 legal thriller film follows the life of Mitch McDeere, an aspiring lawyer set to graduate from Harvard Law School before he’s made an offer he can’t refuse. Tom Cruise plays the promising Harvard Law graduate.
Good Will Hunting — Featuring an all-star cast of Matt Damon, Robin Williams and Ben Affleck, the film tells the tale of Will Hunting, played by Damon, who meets a British student about to graduate from Harvard named Skylar, played by Minnie Driver.
How High — Method Man and Redman were on the Harvard Campus. In the stoner comedy, both are told they should apply to the University. Once there, the shenanigans ensue.
Ice Princess — The 2005 Disney film follows the life of Casey Carlyle, played by Michelle Trachtenberg, a bookworm turned figure skater who plans to pursue a scholarship at Harvard. Spoiler alert — she later turns the scholarship down after she’s received it.
Legally Blonde — Reese Witherspoon’s character, Elle Woods, packs up for Harvard Law School to reunite with her ex-boyfriend and try to win him back in this romantic comedy.
Love Story — Considered one of the most romantic movies of all time, the 1970 film tells of Oliver Barrett IV, played by Ryan O’Neal, who comes from a family of wealthy Harvard graduates. At the Radcliffe Library, he meets and falls in love with Jennifer Cavalleri, a working-class student played by Ali MacGraw. The two decide to get married after graduation, despite Barrett’s father’s wishes, and the father severs ties with his son.
The Paper Chase — Based on the novel by John Jay Osborn, Jr., The Paper Chase follow the life of a first-year student at Harvard Law School who’s petrified of one of his professors.
The Social Network — Last year’s film about Facebook and its resulting lawsuits tells the tale of Mark Zuckerberg, who created the social networking site while studying at Harvard.
Soul Man — This 1986 comedy is about a teen who poses as a young black man in hopes of achieving his dreams of attending Harvard and receiving a full scholarship.