The Great Plotnik

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fairy Tale World

The new seasons are beginning at local theaters, so Plot and Duck will be Mr. and Ms. First Nighter quite a few times in coming weeks. JJ-aka-PP, wish you wuz here.

Last night they saw the new road company version of "Beauty and the Beast" at the Golden Gate. Plotnik is on the fence about this one -- on the one hand, he hates modern Disney musicals, the music is pathetically derivative of other, older shows, the songs are shamelessly stolen from 'way better composers (notably Richard Rodgers), the characters are formulaic and the stereotypes make your wife want to lose her breakfast.

On the other hand, Act II does everything a musical/fairy tale/romance is supposed to do. Beauty/The Princess/Snow White/Cinderella/Meg Ryan realizes she really loves the guy/beast/frog/lonely widower at the beginning of the act, then there is much more undeserved misfortune that she/he/they/it must overcome, and then they do, and the spell is lifted (thorn removed from paw/they look deeply in each other's eyes) and everybody is happy and walks out of the theater with tears in his/her eyes.

Beauty in the Beast is a happy fantasy. It gathers you willingly into its arms, but then it has to discharge you from the Golden Gate Theatre, a 1922 baroque beauty, into the beast of a Shithole Modernist Streetscape; from the world of castles and princesses you seek your carriage parked on Sixth Street in Saint Plotniko, helped along not by fairy godmothers or talking teapots but a barrage of Non-Beauties/Beggars/Junkies/Crazy Black People/Screaming Chinese People/Toothless White People/Overflowing Garbage Cans//Drunks/Smell of Pee/Cackling Loonies. It feels like you're still in the play, only it's Act Three, Four and Five, where the characters live out the rest of their lives, and they are even more familiar than the ones you saw on the stage half an our ago. You know you've seen THIS show before and they really ought to write some new songs.

Inside the Golden Gate Theater were lots of excited little girls in Princess costumes. We only saw one little boy, and he was with two buff gay dads. Gay men seem to worship this story -- after all, it's the tale of the redemption of the huge outcast who nobody loves because of his, uh, defect.

This will be a difficult review to write, because we are supposed to deal with the PRODUCTION, not the show itself, which after all is almost twenty years old. They are hard to separate. The story is treacle but the production was pretty good. And outside, afterwards, sadly, it felt like home.

In Beauty and the Beast, it's a spell by a wicked witch, laid upon a self-centered Prince who refuses to recognize that beauty is only skin deep, that is at the heart of all that follows. And here comes The Great Plotnik, his mind once again waylaid by the horrid refuse of our modern world, looking not at whatever beauty may lie within the grotesque bodies of these broken-down human beings. Instead he finds himself counting his steps until he and his wife can get to their car, throw open the doors and flee across time, away from reality, back into their own fairy tale world.

He doesn't like feeling like this, he can tell you that.


You can read the SF Theater Blog review of "Beauty and the Beast" here.


At 4:49 PM, Blogger notthatlucas said...

Like the Republican shot! (Nice review, as always.)


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