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A joy of a Greek revisal
Posted by: peter3053 05:22 pm EDT 10/08/20
In reply to: My bad - dramedy 03:16 pm EDT 10/08/20

At the time of the 2004 revival, there were a couple of reviews - I forget which - which suggested that the critics who wrote them didn't fully appreciate the original Greek style of comedy which was being employed. The blend of low humor and high aspiration, and the episodic structure with varied choral interludes, captured Aristophanic comedy very well. One might quibble with the 2004 addition of book songs like "I Love to Travel", "Think Big", "Ariadne" etc, but what book songs they were! ("Think Big" is a spectacular use of rhyme, still astounding after so many repeated hearings.) These songs kept the comedy on the boil for the most part, and perhaps catered to modern expectations of musical scores while the choral songs kept us in the Aristophanic universe.

The choice to make the competition between Shaw and Shakespeare, rather than the original Aeschylus and Euripides, was apt and integrated to a particular history of drama in which Shaw in real life berated Shakespeare from the distance of a few centuries.

My especial highlight from the 2004 score is, in fact "Shaw" - in which his followers introduce the "Shaw" dance. The idea of turning an intellectual playwright and reformer like Shaw into the source of a dance craze was nuttily brilliant, and both the lyrics and the music have a bounce you'd wish plenty of other shows had:

"He has no use for piety
Or notions of propriety.
He'll show us our society
In ways we never saw....

Words can dance,
Thoughts can dance,
Syllables can samba.
Sentences can waltz around in your mind.
Epigrams can leap and bound
Simply from the way they sound...."

The show is not without its flaws, but so what? Thank you, Nathan Lane, for pushing the idea for a revival (revisal)!

On a side note, Shaw himself would probably have relished and understood the recent call by young actors at RADA for his name to be removed from one of the theatres. While he may not have in the end desired the change, and could have mounted arguments to defend himself, he was always a critic of "what was merely acceptable simply because it had never been thought through" (my speech marks), and one of his epigrams quoted in "The Frogs" is pertinent: "All great truths begin as heresies!"

I would take even a slightly flawed show like "The Frogs" over a hundred other musicals which lacked ambition, wit and theatrical integrity - anytime!
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