And so Richard Monette has chosen to close out his “bawdy” of work with what is likely the Bard’s first tome and, too sadly, the Stratford Festival’s retiring artistic director’s last. We say sadly as Shakespeare’s droll wit and spot-on sense of the ludicrous is trumped at every turn by pointless pratfalls, teasing tassels, self-serving commercials (on an artistic par with the very wayward cellphones and beepers that we’re chided to silence in Greek) and a larger-than-life, unscripted penguin whose back-of-head placard reads “Just for the critics.” Er, thanks!
He doth protest too much, methinks.
Despite a heroic effort by the company to accede to their leader’s wishes and send him off in fine style, the gags are so over-done in this “Get ye to a funnery” that, Measure for Measure, there are no redeeming qualities (very nearly in the same dreadful category as Mel Gibson and Gaspar Noé—cross-references below).
For his last Shakespearean hurrah, Monette seems determined to clean out his Tickle Trunk and mask the play’s considerable humour with sight guffaws that were briefly in vogue when Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and Monty Python’s Flying Circus were on first-run telly.
More’s the pity.
Self-indulgence-on-the-Avon is easily boiled down to a quartet of syllables: Pharce goes to camp.
Go for the yuks, but leave your artistic sensibilities in the foyer.