- Terelle Jerricks
By John Farrell
There really is nothing new under the sun.
Matters we think of as contemporary: bloody violence, unfaithful and murderous wives and husbands, and kinky, over-the-top sex. That could be the formula for a dozen movies you might have seen with popcorn and soda in hand any week in the 21st century.
And perhaps you’d be right to say that in most plays of the last 200 years much of that sort of action occurred off-stage. Victorian audiences and the modern playgoer usually expect a little decorum in the playhouse.
But at the time of Shakespeare, and for many years after, plays were not only uninhibited, they were the most violent (and popular) show in town. Thomas Middleton’s The Changeling, written in 1620 just a few years after Shakespeare’s death, is one of the best and best-known tragedies of the English stage. A tragedy with comic overtones, the play is filled with enough blood to make even Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which it incidentally follows on the Long Beach Playhouse’s Studio Theatre stage, look tame.
On August 30, director Dave Barton will bring his Jacobean dream of an adaptation of The Changeling to the Playhouse.
“Put a Jacobean tragedy in modern dress and, aside from the language, it’s indistinguishable from today’s news headlines,” Barton said. “(It’s) full of backstabbing, politics, mental illness, sex, bloodshed and comedy. The play’s concerns about moral fidelity, sexual honesty, the war between men and women and the power money has to corrupt feels very contemporary.
The Changeling tells the story of a young woman who is going to be wed, at her father’s insistence, to a man she does not love. She decides the best way to solve this problem is to hire a man to kill that future husband. The problem is that the creepy man she hires for the task expects to get much more from her than just a fee. The story takes place in a palace and in a madhouse. And, as Baryon said, uses “bags of blood” to tell the story.
Tickets are $24, $21 for seniors, $14 for students. Pay what you can Thursday, August 30 at 8 p.m,, tickets two for the price of one Friday, August 31 at 8 p.m., $27 opening night Saturday, September 1 at 8 p.m., Sunday, September 2 at 2 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. through September 29.
Details: (562) 230-0564, www.lbplayhouse.org
Venue: Long Beach Playhouse Studio Theatre
Location: 5021 E. Anaheim, Long Beach