Read A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: A Musical Comedy Based on the Plays of Plautus by Stephen Sondheim Free Online
Book Title: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: A Musical Comedy Based on the Plays of Plautus|
The author of the book: Stephen Sondheim
Edition: Dodd Mead
Date of issue: December 31st 1985
ISBN 13: 9780396085997
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 8.34 MB
City - Country: No data
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Reader ratings: 6.7
Read full description of the books:
This is not what I intended to pick up as the end of my tour of ancient plays. Apparently Sondheim & Friends took great liberties with The Frogs, as the musical play now freely makes references to France, George Bush and cell phones. Either Aristophanes was a much more forward-thinker than he's given credit, or they were ****ing around. The references are so off-hand that they don't damage the narrative; they don't visit France or Washington (though they are now on a trip to liberate George Bernard Shaw from Hades).
Musical theatre is definitely not for me, and reading it is even less appealing. If this wasn't so flippant I'd probably hate it, but how could I hate things like:
Herakles: You can't go dressed like that.
Xanthias: Like what?
Herakles: Like Minerva on a first date.
Herakles: Unfortunately I must get my gear. I go to clean the Augean stables.
Dionysos: No shit.
Charon [boatman of the underworld:]: What happens if you look directly into the eyes of Medusa?
Xanthias: You turn to stone.
Dionysos: Everybody knows that.
Charon: Not that fellow over there!
It's dumb humor for educated people, just about my favorite genre. The cast of mythological figures, all high on their satirical ideals, are a bunch of morons - and so the messages of a need for clear thoughts and end to war aren't cloyingly didactic, and are generally amusing. I listened to a portion of a broadway production with Nathan Lane as the god of wine (perfect), and found they embraced the well-read goofyness.
However near the end, when we indulge in a debate between George Shaw and William Shakespeare, things become incredibly didactic and the play actually concludes with the cast telling you be "rude" and go join political activism - not in a theme, but actually them telling the audience to do as soon as they get up away from the manuscipt or theatre. That's intensely annoying, especially for something that was, frankly, intellectually unimpressive for most of its duration. To make their jokes these writers were clearly well-read, and to pluck so many quotes from Shaw and Shakespeare they clearly were familiar with heavy topics, but even the "debate" is myopic in scope: it boils down to heartless rudeness fighting beautiful nothingness, and the ending endorsement of uncivility is deeply disappointing. The writers must be intelligent enough to recognize that one can be civil and intelligent, sympathizing with whom you disagree, but that would fit the A-B agument of the last part of the play. Should we citizens of "Athens" sit around while the country fall apart? No, but I don't need musical theatre taking liberties with a classic to tell me what to do.
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