Thursday, 5 July 2012

Happy ever after?

And so we face the final curtain. The situation is finally resolved, we all know where we stand, and we're set to wander off into the sunset, hand in hand.

Each of the three couples reacts differently to the final revelations, and to be honest, we're still experimenting with what, exactly, those reactions will be. A 'happy ending' is one thing, but there's always the potential that the fairytale finish might not be quite as planned, or wanted.

Did you ever see Sondheim's (overlong, but splendid) Into the Woods? The first half of the show concludes with 'happy ever after'; the second half shows what really happened next when the characters 'got what they wanted', and it isn't always quite as they imagined. Cinderella's and Rapunzel's princes are quickly bored with domesticity, and are drawn to seeking more exciting, unattainable women, for example (the Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, if you were wondering). The show's primary message is 'Be careful what you wish for - you might get it'; and indeed, the very final moments involve Cinderella blurting out her opening lines from the show - "I wish" - only to be stopped, with a hand over the mouth, by the other characters.

I was also reminded of a recent production of Measure for Measure at the Maddermarket. When the lovely Jo Sessions, as Isabella, was 'given' to the Duke in marriage, we realised - from the look of blank horror on her face - that her vocation as a nun, the most precious thing in her life, has been taken away from her. It was a startling change from the usual glow of happiness when she is led away by her husband-to-be. Jo made it very clear that Isabella's own dreams had been crushed, not realised.

Here, with our three couples, we are still finding how they resolve matters, in their lives and in their hearts. And that's the delight of experimenting with a theatrical experience: it's up to the actors and the directors to convey what the characters want. What they really, really want.

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