Sunday, March 17, 2013

On the Prequel

"I hate you ... forever."
- an actual line of dialogue written by either Mitchell Kapner or David Lindsay-Abaire

 So, we saw Oz the Great and Powerful. (There may be spoilers.) It is not my desire to critique this movie, at least not very much, it's not worth it. If you want a full-on hatefest, by all means read this review from NYC alt-theater gadfly Trav S.D.; The New Oz Movie Is a Piece of Crap. Comparing the MGM classic musical to this Disney "prequel" is in some respects simply not fair.

Look at it this way ... The Wizard of Oz was written in a different time, when there were different ideas of what a film could be, or should be and it exceeded all of those. It is a classic of its genre, a fact which is not in dispute, by anyone. Attempting to create a story which takes place before the memorable events of that film, to tell a story which evokes moments from that film while at the same time to create a new, surprising narrative, including new, memorable characters who speak in such a way as to not only evoke that earlier time, but also resonate with a modern, young audience? That is a pretty tall order. Who could successfully achieve such a thing?

Oh, that's right. Me. I did.

From the beginning of the tour there were a few in the audience, of a certain age, who were not even familiar with the word prequel, and were impressed by it. I'm not, I dislike that word, and have done since it came into general use in the early 1980s. But oh, well, not one asked me about the word "blog" either and I have come to accept that one, too.

There were a handful of audience participants who were unhappy with the decisions characters they admire in Much Ado About Nothing made in Double Heart. I am not talking about those who were affected by the plot of Double Heart, that found it troubling, I mean people who said it's just wrong, it doesn't fit, Beatrice would not initiate premarital fucking ... some seemed to take it personally, either in our post-show discussion or in written evaluations.

However, by and large, that was not the reaction, and audiences were generally pleased with the language, that it felt "Shakespearean" and also very accessible. But Oz the G&P has a big problem and it is not, for me, the dialogue (although the dialogue is just like that to be found in any other mass-produced film today) but the plot, the flat out ordinariness of the plot. And the reason I am even taking time on a Sunday afternoon to make the comparison is that what happens in this new Oz flick is the very first thing people put go to when they want to explain what makes a bitter and angry woman -- jealousy.

Seriously. The Wicked Witch of the West. One of the greatest villains in film history, power-hungry, the master of an army of inhuman soldiers, freaking FIERCE, my friend. We were, my entire generation, all those who waited until that one day a year when a network would broadcast the movie (that number includes Denzel Washington, apparently) -- we were scared out of our shit by that lady.

And it all started because she gave her love to a guy who doesn't even act like he likes her very much? I mean, it's not even very interesting as jiltings go. I love you, you don't love me, surrender Dorothy? Anyway, I guess the point is, the next time someone objects to the plot of Double Heart, I can use this movie as an example of what I made sure I did not do, to provide the expected.

Meanwhile, hey! I'm being produced for the first time on the West Coast! Chataqua Playhouse in Carmichael, CA will be producing The Mysterious Affair at Styles this summer. Awesome!

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