The Persians and some news on HBO's Rome
This was a production very aware of itself as something staged. They often showed the musicians on stage, and the cast itself initially enters in modern garb, collectively introducing the play to the audience. They put their Persian robes on over this garb, but often the modern clothing (particularly the ties) are still visible underneath. This constantly reminded the audience that these were modern actors; it also brought home the point that this production spoke to modern times. This was emphasized also by the Herald and Xerxes in modern camouflage and Darius' appearance with along black leather coat.
Additionally, I found the contrast between the initial golden dress of Atossa and her later black garb visually stunning.
I also really want the map they use at the beginning of the production!
As for the play itself, without actually having looked at the complete text of The Persians lately, I can't speak to textual changes. However, I know they cut a lot of the "woe" (kakos) at the end, and I'm kicking myself right now, because I've already forgotten how they ended up translating that word! But, more importantly, they pulled this off very well, driving home the auditory stimulation of the repetition and putting it very well to music.
Lastly, this works so well as a company-oriented production. The chorus was split up into cabinet members with individual lines. Their titles (some of which will seem very familiar) were Chairman, Interior, Navy, Justice, Religion, Army, Treasury, and State. The cast was absolutely solid, and there are definitely some very familiar names for the frequent theatre-goer (even, unexpectedly, some alumni of The Scarlet Pimpernel, on the off chance that any Leaguers are reading this).
Again, I urge anyone in the area to go see this production.
And now for a completely (or not?) different topic--HBO's Rome. Firstly, David Meadows alerted us the other day that HBO's Rome will be out on DVD come August 15! Even more exciting, the second season has started production. From the official site's newsletter:
HBO's epic drama series ROME has begun production on its ten-episode second season, it was announced by Carolyn Strauss, president, HBO Entertainment. Filming of the new episodes will continue at Rome's Cinecitta Studios through next October, with debut set for 2007.
"This exciting series offers a spectacle unlike anything else on TV," noted Strauss. "The new episodes of ROME will go deeper into the intriguing characters and provocative storylines that made the first season a hit with critics and subscribers."
Chronicling the fall of a republic and the rise of an empire, the first season of ROME wrapped last December. TV Guide hailed it as a "feast for the eyes" and a "ripping good story," as well as a "shamelessly enjoyable historical romp," while the Washington Post described the series as "ravishing and wickedly shocking," and "a feast for the senses that includes generous portions of food for thought." In addition, ROME received two Golden Globe® nominations: Best Television Series - Drama and Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama (Polly Walker).