I went to see The Verona Project at CalShakes last night. I overheard that this is only the 2nd time in their history that they’ve put on an original play. For a given value of put on, as I don’t think any of the usual cast were in the show, though technical crew probably were. Instead, the cast was a hand assembled group of musicians and artists. The show did have, however, CalShakes’ usual quirky sense of humor.
From what I gather from the program, the idea was to do a rock concept album based off Two Gentlemen of Verona, the parallel being that love and life are never quite as simple as rock or theater portrays it. Yet somehow through this simplified half-truth, we know the real truth better.
Before I get too philosophical, some more on the show: it was entertaining. There was some good indie music and acting and imagery (of the sort that makes me wish I understood the symbolism better, but I don’t, which then makes me suspect that people are just making crap up). They took the original plot and made it theirs, injecting a sense of humor into the production. For example, the actors used tin cans tied with twine to talk to each other, but also to show the connection between people. The scene where Proteus leaves Julia, he physically breaks the cord and walks off the stage. He was being a douche (well, that’s how he spends almost the entire show), but it was done in an amusing way. Oddly, the whole tin can symbolism disappeared before Act II. For some songs, I do wish they had enunciated better. The weirdest thing in the show was that characters would narrate what they are doing: “Julia looks down into the sink,” etc. When the entire cast is doing this, it could be avant-garde, or it could be an utter failure of Show, Don’t Tell.
Anyway, I like going to the theater because it makes me think about stuff that I ordinarily don’t think about when I run in my usual circles. For example, Proteus asks how do you know you’re in love? Sure, you meet a girl and everything seems perfect, but if you haven’t seen the world, do you really know this is it, or is this just what you think love to be based off what little you’ve experienced? Then you do leave your little town, and you see your best friend blindingly happily in love. Is love supposed to be something out of a poem? Is comparing your love and his love like comparing apples and oranges?
And the thing is this: I (James, not Proteus), have spent almost my entire adult life bouncing between okay being single; not okay being single; struggling with ultimately doomed relationships; jealous of others’ happiness; or relearning how live without a person I depended on. There may have been some months when I was happily floating along, but not a lyrical poem, rock & roll kind of love. Part of me has watched too many musicals and movies and expects love to be announced by a lightning strike or a fanfare of angels. Part of me remembers what happened when I became too attached to one person and now keeps everyone at a distance. And because of that distance, I don’t think I’ll let myself feel poetry; if I do, I will second guess and dampen my feelings. And given that, that second part of me says don’t wait for lightning, grab the first girl who’ll do, and try to make it work. But the first part of me wonders, while I’m settling for what’s there, maybe I’ll miss the person I’m supposed to be with. It’s not like I have years to spend on doomed relationships.
Then the rational part of me says I don’t exactly have them queuing up. I should date who I can and see if it works out. And if it doesn’t, then it’s practice for when I do find someone. That would be rational, but since when do love and rationality go together?