Category Archives: Performance Review

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2015)

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Really, yet another Midsummer Night’s Dream?” Or, perhaps, “Shakespeare? Honestly, why do I need to see this?” The answer to both is: Julie Taymor (The Tempest).

Taymor is one of the most visionary stage directors of our time. She employs simple techniques to create magnificent effects. Think the puppets in The Lion King, which have become her trademark. Midsummer certainly leverages that aspect of her talent, but also her ability to distill a play to its essence and manifest it. The opening moments of this filmed performance will grab you and make you wish you’d been in the audience. She takes several minutes before the first piece of uttered dialogue to visually create the world and your expectations, to invite you into a magical realm, to escape for a while into the silliness of this comedy.

There are a number of solid performances, but chief among them in Kathryn Hunter (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). Her Puck is brilliant and carries the show well through acting, voice, and movement. As Oberon, David Harewood (The Night Manager) brings both a power and heart to the self-important ruler, though it is still rather hobbled by the plot he must walk.

The Mechanicals, led by Max Casella’s (Jackie) Bottom, are suitably absurd, and each has their moment. But it is Zachary Infante (Carrie Pilby) as Flute that really shines in one of the play’s most important moments near the end of the film.

The approach to filming the play is done rather well, capturing both an audience feel and “in the action” keeping it from feeling too static. There are a few moments that I’d rather have seen from long shots, to really appreciate the staging, but generally, the cameras floated among the characters like the fairies in the play.

So here’s the truth: The play isn’t perfect. Frankly no Shakespeare is. Sensibilities have moved on and the plays tend to be a bit longer for their purpose than modern times tends to care for and, clearly, a little too forgiving of cultural mores that are well out of date. In the case of Midsummer, the opening scene and the overlong wrap-up probably will grate a little. You are also forgiven for wondering why the heck we have to sit through the mechanical’s presentation while the Duke and co. heckle them. The Mechanical’s play is funny and, really, it is used to get to the single moment with Flute, whose declaration of love is one of the most heart-felt in the entire play, which is full of overblown histrionics by design. That moment brings it all back to earth. More generally, in today’s terms, Shakespeare had written himself into a corner and needed to wrap up the threads and entertain the cheap seats. However, to be a little more fair, the original intent of the play was about (and for) the wedding.

If you’ve never seen Midsummer, this is a great one to start with. If you have, it may well become your favorite interpretation on a broad scale. There have certainly been better and more memorable individual performances of characters in this play, but as an overall delivery, this version is truly extraordinary and wonderful to watch.

A Midsummer Night

Vanya on 42nd Street

If you’re even the least bit interested in this film, it helps if you love live performance, Anton Chekov plays, and/or Louis Malle. This final film of Malle’s captures André Gregory’s (My Dinner with André) run at directing Uncle Vanya with the definitive idea of it being about the human condition. Not about plot, or characters, but solely about the “meaning of life” for lack of a better phrase; basically a discourse with character.

Certainly, I’d agree that Chekov reflects on life. However, where I think this Vanya misses is that Chekov is also funny. Dark funny, but funny. The performance is based on David Mamet’s (Redbelt) adaptation of Chekov’s play. Gregory further adapted it for this screen version. The resulting script is beautifully written and full of wonderful moments and monologues. But even the script seems to have missed some of the poking of fun at the characters and the audience. How much of that is Mamet and how much Gregory’s surgery, I can’t say as I don’t have the source material to compare.

The challenge of filming a play is that the heightened aspect of the script almost always feels forced. In addition, this film captures only one version of the play. It had been work-shopped for 5 years and performed privately only 12 times prior to capturing it on film. Each of these performances was done with the audience very much as the onlookers are in the film itself. And each performance was reportedly markedly different, by design.

Louis Malle chose to tackle this tale and capture it for posterity after seeing several of the very limited live performances that Gregory’s group put together. His direction is practically invisible, allowing us to live in the play/rehearsal the way it was conceived to be performed live, inches from the actors. By the end of the production, it feels real, nearly natural.

The cast are all equally powerful, starting with Wallace Shawn (A Master Builder) in the title role. Along with him, Julianne Moore (Freeheld), Brooke Smith (Bates Motel), and Larry Pine (House of Cards) really drive the bulk of the story.

This isn’t really a play, nor is it a film. It is a hybrid of sorts. The “making of” documentary on the disc can explain that better than I in this short space. It certainly provided some confirmations for me about the interpretations as well. You don’t get to see performances like this often, which makes this a great experience. Whether the play and message will resonate I imagine will depend on many things for each individual watching.

Vanya on 42nd Street

Hunky Dory

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Less Hamlet 2 (which everyone should see) and more The Details in structure, this movie has a lot of good moments that come together, but not as you expect. The key to this film is the first few minutes. Pay attention, they tell you exactly what they’re going to do… and then they pay it off just after the fade out at the end. I really didn’t listen as I took it as more an introduction than a classic first frame set-up. Bad me after all my complaints on this with other directors. Hunky Dory does this purposefully, though I would argue not clearly enough and, as such, most people will miss the intention.

As a view of the mid-70’s and into growing up, period, the film is a fairly standard story set amid some non-standard situations. The story won’t surprise as much as endear itself to you. Along with Driver (Barney’s Version, Grosse Pointe Blank), Barnard (The White Queen) and Harries carry the story forward with many supporting players, both established and unknown, not to mention a full orchestra.  But the story as a whole is more collage than a single thought. This makes the finale a tad less satisfying, and yet via the music, director Evans manages to raise your emotions in a positive way.

Do be warned that the heavy accents are a challenge. My ear is pretty good, but I missed a good percentage of the specific dialogue that drowned in the Welsh influence, though rarely the intention.

I have to say that the production of The Tempest that serves as the backbone of the film is possibly one of the more interesting versions of it never made and, sadly, we don’t even get to see it all. If you don’t know the text of the play, some of the changes and references will be missed, but the music (a wonderful collection of 70’s classics) will get the point across, even if the subtler aspects get past.  Even given Taymor’s recent adaptation, I think this production could have been more compelling. It also brought to mind Were the World Mine in many ways in its open enthusiasm for life… or perhaps just because it was a high school musical format.

Barrymore

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There is no question that Plummer delivers a masterful performance as Barrymore in this film.

And there’s the rub: it also feels like a performance. But I don’t blame Plummer for that. He is magnetic, entertaining, moving, incredible facile in his emotions, and unforgettable.

The intention, and where this went wrong as a movie, was to attempt to capture the play that was mounted to great success in 1997 so that others could experience it. But, instead, the filmmakers ended up somewhere between doing a play and filming a movie. They would have better served their intent by just setting up the camera and allowing the performance to drive the story. Using cinematic tricks and angles really only highlighted the stage energy and approach of the performance, which, of course, was so very wrong for film.

In truth, closing your eyes and just listening to Plummer’s mellifluous voice is more than enough to allow this film to work. Sure, you miss some visual clues and subtleties, but the story is still beautifully imparted. The chance to see Plummer do an essentially one-man show is worth your time. Just know you’re stepping into the theatre, and leave your movie eyes at the door.

Oscars (2013)

There are always two aspects to the Oscars that will be picked apart ad nauseum the next day and weeks: the show itself and the list of winners/losers. I feel obligated to add my 2 cents, cause, well, I spend a ton of time watching movies and these are “my people,” as it were. But I’ll try to keep it blessedly short and to the point as others get paid to wax eloquent and I’d rather move on to the new stuff now.

The host and the show

MacFarlane was neither fish nor fowl as the host. I blame the producers for this. After casting potentially one of the most inappropriate comedians in the role (only South Park’s Parker and Stone could have been more dangerous), they then leashed him. The show ended up providing neither the drama of boundaries crossed nor the gravitas of a more established star. In other words, no one really got enough of what they would have liked. Sure, he can sing and the production numbers (that I watched, some just bored me) were entertaining, but it was a pretty ho-hum show minus one or two zingers and good speeches. MacFarlane is just a little too old-Hollywood polished looking without the exuberance that Harris brought to the stage the last couple years… nor does he have NPH’s chops.

The winners and losers

With the exception of Argo as Best Pic and Daniel Day Lewis as Best Actor, the field was wide open for surprises last night. That was kind of fun for a change. I am not entirely sanguine with all the winners, but neither was I overly disappointed (except for Brave, which was great tech, but a disappointing movie; ParaNorman should have won). It was a solid collection of nominees, even accepting that there were people overlooked. Best speech went to Lewis. Worst to Tarantino. Most painful presentation was a toss-up between Rudd/McCarthy or Stewart/Radcliffe. At least in my opinion.

The overlooked

The greatest controversy this year was the lack of Best Director nomination for Affleck. I just looked at it as the Clooney curse: you just aren’t allowed to be that pretty and that talented. But as there always are, there were some smaller films that were utterly missed. The Perks of Being a Wallflower this year reminded me of the miss of Easy-A in its year. In an industry that needs the new generation to get excited by what they do, I don’t understand overlooking gems like these. But they weren’t big studio films, so got easily side-lined by the system. Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present was a glaring miss in the documentary listings. The script for Looper in original script, another. The Intouchables as well disappeared after huge response (relatively) on the theater circuit. But there will always be missed films, I suppose, and particularly in the foreign category they feel compelled to be broadly representative and Amour likely pushed it out.

So now on to the 2013 field, and they are already positioning and handicapping a new bumper-crop.

Phantom of the Paradise

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Back in 1974, Brian De Palma (CarrieScarfaceMission Impossible, and Mission to Mars to name a diverse few) and actor/composer Paul Williams (Rainbow Connection, Evergreen, We’ve Only Just Begun) formed an unholy alliance to create a cultural commentary that you could tap your feet to. For their efforts, they managed to win several nominations and awards. Even 39 years later this truly wonderful and bizarre horror musical has relevance and humor, if a bit broad, that works.

Beneath the broad comedy are messages about the movie and music industries as well as comments on society in general. In addition to the story of Faust that provides the main structure, there are references to Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein, Alice Cooper, A Star is Born, and many other people, films, and stories.  Paradise is both very much of its time and yet somehow timeless. It was created in the wake of Hair (1967) and Tommy (The Who, 1969), but took a rather different tack and almost surely shared inspiration with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which opened in London in 1973.

Admittedly, even with the layers and satire, this isn’t a lot more than a popcorn classic at this point, but it does still work. It’s low budget, indie feel is probably more in its favor now than it was in the past. If this had been too polished it would have felt absurdly self-conscious, like Rock of Ages. Instead, we have enough music and story amid the cardboard sets and crazy make-up and costumes to get the points and still have fun. And fun is truly had.

The cast is a collection of actors and singers in their early years. None who really became huge stars, but most work steadily and are recognizable. Harper (Suspiria, My Favorite Year) and Finley chief among them.

This movie isn’t going to change your life, but it is one of the more unusual ones out there. In recent times, only Repo! The Genetic Opera comes close in an attempt to match the effort… and that failed on the story level in comparison.  Even the transfer was given surprising care given the age and genre of the film. Get some popcorn and watch this one… I’m glad I pulled it back out after so many years.

Marina Abramovic The Artist Is Present

As a documentary, this is one of the best I’ve seen and on par with the the Oscar winning Man on Wire (another documentary not to be missed). Both are honest, informative, surprising, and surpass its subject matter by providing insights into those involved. And, in this case, it becomes itself a bit of the performance art it tells tale about.

Admittedly, “performance art” is a phrase that often brings out strong responses from people, myself included. There are those that love the idea of art eliciting concept through live interaction and those that think it is just masturbatory theatre unworthy of attention. This documentary will make you rethink your attitude no matter which side of the fence you are on. And should you be in the middle of that spectrum, you will likely end up on a side.

Abramovic has been around for decades. Her performances have made the news and even been referenced in Law & Order (or was it Castle?) in recent memory. She is part of the cultural fabric and considered by many to be one of main roots of performance art. She certainly is one of its greatest proponents and most dedicated visionaries. With her installation at MoMA, around which this docu circles, she is absolutely its greatest legitimizer.

What makes this such an effective documentary is how the work itself is not only captured but how it manages to allow you to, in some small way, experience what was an ephemeral event. It didn’t just record the actions, it attempted to capture the moments. It puts you alternately in the position of the audience and in the position of the performer. It is an intimate movie and well constructed to also create a narrative that is emotionally satisfying. You cannot finish the film without, at least, a grudging respect for Abramovic’s ideas and athleticism, even if you disagree with its value.

There are a couple of additional hours of extras on the disc. Those I watched were equally interesting, though not quite as crafted as the main film. However, if you do wish to watch them, and I do recommend it, you should do it on another day than the docu. While interesting, they undercut the feeling and craft of the film itself. In fact, I would recommend you see the film one day. Spend time on the extras on another, and then rewatch the film on a third. I suspect, though I’ve not tired it, that the film will take on additional depth with all of the new background and detail.

The Hollow Crown

The Hollow Crown is an ambitious and rare presentation of Shakespeare’s historical cycle. The title of the series, The Hollow Crown, is a reference to Richard II and Bolingbroke’s hand-off of the empty circle of gold that denotes kingship and the country. I will warn you that I do discuss the plots a little–if you’ve never seen these plays, just watch the cycle and come back to my comments; experience the stories without guidance and enjoy them they way they were mean to be: by being surprised by the  tale rather than with a critical and comparing eye to the performances. You only get to learn the story once–make it count. That said, I’ll carry on…

The cycle, as written, has two major arcs. The first chronicles the rise of Henry V to the throne, from before his birth to his ascension and death. I have always found them to work best in that larger context, even as they provide insight to the individual stories of Richard, Bollingbroke, Hal IV, and England’s shift from absolute monarchy. Whether he set out to present how a king became who he was (including the influences of his father) or not, ultimately that is what happens when you put the 4 plays together. Each is it’s own story, but they have their best impact as a whole. The second arc is around a single cycle in the history of England’s monarchy and its predominance in the world. It begins with a weak King, to the repair of the country and collecting of the nobles, through to the loss of it all again merely 25 years later.

Outside of the characters, and the historical arc, the message of the cycle as it was presented is really about the the horror and sadness and pointlessness of war. This theme is carried from Richard II up through and till the end of Henry V when, in Shakespeare’s own words, the Chorus sums up the death of Henry, the birth of his son, and the loss of all he built… and so the cycle goes round and round like a circle of gold.

The individual movies each have their merits and style, so I’ve broken up my comments so that they can be considered separately as well as together.

Richard II is the least often produced of this cycle and, as I found this production to be utterly engaging and easy to follow, I had to consider why that was the case. It came down to something rather simple: as an historical play rather than a tragedy, Richard II just isn’t that sympathetic. He falls from power because he doesn’t know how to be more than a selfish tyrant. While you may be tempted to root for Bollingbroke’s rise, the truth is that he isn’t even that interested in taking the crown… it just snowballs for him as the lords rally around him. However, the greater percentage of the play presented in this version is very much from Richard’s point of view, so we really must lens the effects through that perspective. And it isn’t a pretty or satisfying picture. While there may be moralizing and political commentary sprinkled throughout, it really ends up just presenting the story of a fool king who loses everything.

Richard, like any of the major characters, has been played in many ways over the 100s of years the script has been around. Ben Whishaw (The Tempest, and upcoming Cloud Atlas and Skyfall) gives us an infantilized Richard with ambiguous sexuality. His desires and interests are mercurial at best and his wife is kept at a distance, which plays with these themes in a wonderfully subtle way. As a whole it is a strong cast (Jacobi, Stewart, Suchet, etc.) who support the younger lead with conviction and grace. In fact, at least Jacobi has played the main role in the past for the BBC. However, Whishaw more than proves his own worth.

In addition to the expert thespianship, it is also a stunningly designed production, visually and structurally. The script is edited down to a very focused set of points and the scenes build a wonderful mirror from beginning to end, especially as relates to the famous portraits that survive him. Given the presentation of this Richard, it is an apt metaphor.

Henry IV (Part I) Having ascended the throne, Henry, now played by Jeremy Irons in this cycle, has to deal with both his own countrymen and his own guilt that has built over the intervening 10 years. A monarchy based on politics rather than divine right is new and has its own dangers–you can only rule by power or flattery when all the lords want want your assistance. Little of this is obvious, but it nicely hinted at through Henry’s physical decline and snappish demeanor.

Add into this dynamic his son, Prince Hal, and we have the germ (with all the background) of how Hal becomes Henry V down the road. In fact, despite the title, most of the performance is focused on Hal. the spare moments with his father and their interaction are very much from Hal’s point of view.

Part 1 of this tale has some of the most famous and critically beloved scenes of Shakespeare, and some of the most poignant. They are well played by Hiddleston (Thor, Wallander, Avengers) as Hal and well supported by Beale’s sad and corpulent Falstaff. This dynamic of friends and pseudo-family is well paid off over the next two installments.

Joe Armstrong’s Hotspur is both believable and annoying all at once. This is as much Shakespeare as it is the blustering performance. Hotspur’s father, played by his real father Alun (New Trick‘s and so much else), adds a little bit of extra fun to the cast, though he is barely used in either this part nor Part II. Also of note was Hotspur’s wife (Michelle Dockery) who was directed very much to be his equal and who has appeared in some wonderful stuff over the years (Hogfather, Hanna, Fingersmith, and many BBC staples including Downton Abbey and Cranford). As a side casting comment, Mortimer is being played by Harry Lloyd (Viserys in Game of Thrones) and who still comes off as a bit of a prat.

While often performed, I still find this to be, on its own, a weak play. There is fun in the Inn and moments of reconciliation in the palace and on the field, but it is really just a stepping stone to Part II and, especially in this edit, a forced set of actions based on plot need rather than clearly motivated. This is primarily a factor of the editing of the script. However, there were also some interesting directing choices, which included some odd voice over choices for soliloquies and some inter-cut scenes that were originally just back-to-back.

Henry IV (Part II)

Dividing these plays is necessary because they were written that way, but this really is an immediate sequel to the first part, picking up scant days or hours after the end of the battle that closes Part I.

However, the focus of this play (as presented) shifts predominantly onto Falstaff and finally gives Beale the space he needs to show us the complexity of this broken and sad man. We get to see his rise and fall as well as watch Hal pivot from youth to adult in a wonderful set of scenes that sets the two mates on a collision course that resolves only in the last moments of the story.

In addition to the previous cast, Geoffrey Palmer gets to strut about significantly more in this portion of the story. Barely appearing in Part I, he has an important role in Part II and his own set of concerns and story as well.

There is also much more about the workings of politics, the difference between the classes, and the engine of corruption and honor that drives it all throughout this story. Frankly, if you don’t come out of these two plays recognizing the hypocrisy of state and the foolishness of war, the directors failed in their mission.

One aspect of the play I had completely forgotten was Henry IV’s slow unraveling and final speech, which explains what has been going on only in subtext for the previous 2 plays and 6 hours on stage. Without that monologue, this is a standard play about kings and power. With it, we have rich psychological canvas with which to understand the action. It is a speech that goes all the way back to the moment of his banishment by Richard II. It is these kinds of moments that makes watching the whole cycle together so exciting. Film also is able to bring scope to these stories across battlefields and lands that stage can hint at, but can never equal.

Henry V is the most oft produced of this cycle, and the most well known generally, especially given Branagh’s turn in the character and at the helm in his much acclaimed film version.

Henry V, as a play, had the honor of being the first one performed in The Globe. It also attempts to work on a broader canvas Shakespeare had never attempted before. To handle that, he uses the Chorus to, essentially, apologize and ask the viewers to come with them and “imagine” all the sites and scope. For a play, it works great… but as one of the stranger choices, the director left it in for the film. This aspect felt a little odd since all the sites and sounds are there on screen. It does introduce the language and keeps the framing in place as the Chorus opens and closes the play, but the meaning of the speech was a little off for the experience.

Hiddleston builds on his Henry in this next installment and gives us the king he was born to become. A just but slightly passionate man who knows that being king means sacrifices. But he is always, or most always, willing to take on the cost of his decisions.

The core of this film is the battle with France. The by-play between the monarchs is well presented. More importantly, the almost off-handed way they are willing to go to war is emblematic of what this movie in the cycle in particular is trying to talk to: the horror and pointlessness of war and who it really affects. We get our first moment of that at the end of Henry IV, Part I, but it comes full on in this script which focuses on the men on the field.

Which brings us to the most famous speech in the cycle: the St. Crispian’s Day speech Henry delivers after spending the night among his troops learning what they think and feel. This is typically delivered as a rallying cry to the masses. It is a rousing speech (We few. We happy few, etc. ). The director has Henry, instead, deliver it to only his generals. It is an interesting and more realistic choice and very emotionally satisfying, even without all the men cheering and running into battle. It comes off as both a leader rallying his men as well as a heart-felt and honest expression of hope, love, and fear. I’ve never seen it done this way, but I expect you will see it again in the future.

Despite all the emotional complexity of Henry, he has one disturbing and, frankly, out of character moment. At the end of the battle at Azincourt,  in a fit of frustration and anger at the loss of a friend and what he thinks is the continuation of the fight, orders the death of the prisoners. The fit is believable, but he never laments the haste when moments later he discovers he won the day and the prisoners need not have died. There is no commentary on that action, but it is left to the viewer to absorb and consider.

One of the other nice touches was having Catherine’s scenes in French without subtitles so that you see her learning English and preparing to be auctioned off for peace. The scenes were over-long, but necessary to get you to the final moments of the negotiations where they woo one another in one of the shortest courtships on stage that, we’re supposed to believe, ends in love.

The cycle holds together wonderfully despite having multiple directors. There is a clear thread of emotion and intention that evolves. To get to see these casts creating these stories in a single sweep is also extraordinary and not a chance you will likely get to experience often, if ever again. It is an over 8 hour commitment, but you can spread it out over many nights, as I had to. It is worth it and will give you an appreciation for these histories that you probably haven’t had before. I certainly know my estimation of them has changed.

 

Ka (Cirque du Soliel)

For many years I have maintained Cats destroyed Broadway when it ripped apart the Winter Garden Theatre in order to mount their show in the early 80s. It started a spiral of expectations for theatre-goers that took decades to reverse and balance; people needed to remember that a good play is not just about spectacle (though it can include that), it is also about the story and the script and the craft. And, in fact, spectacle is the least of the important factors for a play.

Cirque du Soliel has been elaborating on the idea of full environment experiences for several years and have built many permanent installations in Las Vegas for their shows. With Ka, I may well have say “thank you” to Cats, which galls me to no end. As with their other permanent sites, the Ka Theatre in the MGM Grand provides Cirque with an opportunity to physically create an environment that best suits the story they want to tell. In the case of Ka, this involves stratospheric towers and wires. When you walk in, you are immediately removed from the lights and noise of the casino and into a fantastical and slightly medieval world that is a little reminiscent of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. And, ultimately, this is not a bad visual reference for the story that they want to tell.

The story, by the way, is the truly surprising part of Ka: it is a story. All Cirque shows are themed, and often have threads of stories or visuals that tie together the various acts they present. However, Ka is a full-fledged story. By having that story, the circus acts become something more than just acts in a tent, they become something truly visceral. Let’s face it, circus acts, even when dangerous (as so many of them are) just haven’t maintained a sense of tension for the audience. This is, in part, because the performers are so practiced and good at what they do they make it look so easy. It is also, in part, because we have been inured to danger because of CGI in the movies. We don’t really believe there is life and limb at stake, even when there truly is.

The story of Ka builds the tension within the plot so that by the time you get to the two main acts, you are primed to be scared for the characters and the situation. It begins by having a simple conflict, but ratchets the tension as the battles escalate. At the core of the story is a drive for power and you watch the designing and building of the mechanism that becomes the focus of the finale throughout the show. Between the beginning and the end there are other numerous and glorious acts that keep the story going and provide some of the most breathtaking stage events I’ve ever seen.

Which brings us back to the value of the permanent installation. Ka employs a stage and set of technology that is drool-worthy for anyone in the business and eye-popping for those not in it. Huge hydrolics and computer-interactive lighting allow the space to morph and react to the action in ways impossible till only recently. In fact, Cirque had to create unique software and hardware to make it all happen.

The effect that is created with these elements is that the stage literally floats before the audience with action happening all around the stage. There are moments where it feels like you’re in a fantasy movie, not just watching one, the impact is so absorbing. The set becomes one of the main characters in the show, starting off with a wonderfully simple and common usage and then developing through the show in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.

Combine this creation with some of the best circus performers in the world and you can understand why my jaw was often slack in shock and joy. And the whole tale is told without a lick of real language… it is all done with movement, gibberish, and music. The one exception, the voice over at the top of the show that is there for those unused to sussing a story without understanding the words. The story itself isn’t perfect, and somewhat falls apart near the very end, but the message stays completely clear.

Like most of Cirque’s performances, the price of this show is not low, but not only is it worth paying for, it is worth fighting through the throngs at the MGM to get to the theatre. I’m even willing to go back to see it again; I know I missed a number of subtler things and I would love to see it from a different seat to see how it looks from a new angle.

If I had to suffer through 30 years of Cats to get to this realization of the idea that began there, I think I may finally be able to forgive the show its trespass.