Friday, July 5, 2013

Much ado about Shakespeare

What is it about Shakespeare that makes people so cynical?  Somewhere along the way, as literature accumulates the accolades and intellectualism of being a cultural touchstone, it also becomes impossible to talk about without declaring the wrong and right ways to interact with it.  And the right way always seems to involve either a learned professor or a veteran theater actor.  There's almost, oddly enough, this sense that it cannot be enjoyed for its own sake, that if it is treated only as entertainment it will lose its lofty place and be tarnished.

But I've reached the point where I don't really care about tarnishing the genius of Shakespeare.  I like the lesser pop culture renderings of his timeless words just as much as I would jump at the chance to sit around a classroom table and discuss iambic pentameter.  And so I celebrated the 4th of July in the best way I know how: by going to see Joss Whedon's 'Much Ado About Nothing'.

It may well be my favorite play, having grown up with the Emma Thompson/Kenneth Branagh adaptation and played Dogberry in a high school production.  And since Joss Whedon is one of my favorite people, casting all of his favorite people, I was positively giddy to learn that this was coming to Austin theaters.

It brought me to the Violet Crown theater for the second time, and yet again it was a great experience.  With pre-assigned seats, you don't have to get there more than five minutes ahead of showtime.  And having parking included negates any complications of its downtown location for us non-downtown dwellers.

When I booked the seats there were plenty to choose from, but the actual showing was completely full. Part of the fun of actually going to the movies is the communal aspect, though it does mean that I have to refrain from reciting the lines myself, since each one of them is held safely in my memory for life. But there's something oddly social about laughing along with a room full of strangers as Beatrice and Benedick throw themselves around in an attempt to 'hide' from their Cupid conspirators, and that makes up for it.

Another advantage to modern-day enjoyment of Shakespeare: following it up with a little frozen yogurt.  I know I've raved about it before, but really, The Yogurt Spot is among my favorite froyo places.  Top three.  Because not only do they have a great selection of fruit and tart flavors, they are always exceptionally delicious.  Each one is food to my pleasure, and none of Don John's machinations can convince me otherwise.

And so, I declare my independence from intellectual self-righteousness, and admit freely with my hand and heart my love of Joss' take on the Bard.  Because I'll be honest: if I had that house, those friends, and 12 days to do whatever I felt like, I'd probably film my own 'Much Ado' as well.

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