Which play should I see?
January 18, 2013 5:00 PM   Subscribe

My in-laws gave me a gift certificate to the Guthrie Theater. It will pay for two tickets (for me and my wife) to one play. Given the cost of babysitting, tickets, and dinner, this may be the only play I will see this year. I'd like to see something by Shakespeare. Here are my choices: As You Like It - performed by The Acting Company; Twelth Night - performed by Propeller; and, Taming of the Shrew - Performed by Propeller. Which play should I see? I'll note that I'm leaning towards either seeing As You Like It or Twelth Night, as I've seen Taming of the Shrew twice before and found the sexism made it less than enjoyable both times (I was also in a production of it during college, and found it offputting then as well.)
posted by Area Man to Media & Arts (12 answers total)
Unless there's a huge difference in reputation or style between The Acting Company and Propeller (not familiar with either group), I would probably read summaries of the plays and choose whichever you think sounds most interesting. If they both sound equally good, then I would probably choose based on which date worked better with my schedule.
posted by Sara C. at 5:11 PM on January 18, 2013

I hear great things about Propeller, but have never seen any of their shows. If you don't mind an all-male company, it's probably going to be a more talked-about and perhaps more innovative production than the As You Like It*

I would definitely choose Twelfth Night over Shrew, always.

* I'm not familiar with the actors in that performance, but I have seen plays Dan Rothenberg has directed with Pig Iron in Philadelphia, and my own impression is that his long suit is in very contemporary plays. As You Like It is fusty even for Shakespeare, and my off-the-cuff impression is that it might not be an ideal director/play match.

Oh, and what a lovely gift! I am delighted for/jealous of you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:14 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

A part of me really wants to see The Taming Of The Shrew with an all-male cast, but assuming you are not choosing for lulz and want to see something you'll enjoy and probably have not already seen (which is the bigger point against Shrew in your case, IMO), obviously don't take that advice.
posted by Sara C. at 5:18 PM on January 18, 2013

I would pick Twelfth Night by Propeller because I LOVE Twelfth Night, and Propeller looks like an exciting company. Also, I suspect that an all male cast would do very well in exploring the crossdressing/identity plots in Twelfth Night.
posted by sawdustbear at 5:23 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Propeller is British, The Acting Company is US based touring group. Personally, I'd go for Long Day's Journey.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:24 PM on January 18, 2013

I happen to hate Twelfth Night. I don't mind As You Like It. For what it's worth, I do not like Shakespeare's comedies as a general rule. Hopefully this is useful to you.
posted by hoyland at 5:25 PM on January 18, 2013

Oh, and I too ended up with a gift certificate to the Guthrie for Christmas. I was likely going to pick none of the above, but maybe Taming of the Shrew.
posted by hoyland at 5:25 PM on January 18, 2013

Looking at the website, if this matters to you, it looks like As You Like it is presented in their smaller studio space, while the other two are on their main thrust stage. I have no idea how the Guthrie tends to arrange their studio space, but this might be relevant to the theatre experience you want(I personally like nice, plush theatre spaces, or really small and weirdly configured spaces.).
posted by sawdustbear at 5:31 PM on January 18, 2013

As far as the plays themselves go there isn't really any bad Shakespeare.
posted by Bonzai at 8:02 PM on January 18, 2013

My impression is that The Acting Company does Shakespeare in a somewhat straighter, more "linear" fashion and that Propeller is somewhat more offbeat and "steampunk."

Twelfth Night is IMO a much stronger text than Shrew.

I like unusual productions, so I would go with Twelfth Night in this case. If you feel like you want more of a classical "recognizably Shakespeare" experience, then maybe As You Like It.

To confuse things just a bit more, I find that really excellent imaginative directors sometimes create much more interesting productions from scripts that are less than masterpieces. So with a wunderkind of a director, Shrew might turn out better than Twelfth Night.

I must say that Long Day's Journey into Night strikes me as something less than ideal for a date night.
posted by La Cieca at 9:29 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I saw Propeller's Twelfth Night when it toured the UK last year, and absolutely loved it. They don't "just" do acting; there's a lot of movement (almost dance) and music in it too. The acting is great and the all-male cast adds an interesting twist.

Can't comment on the others as I don't know the plays well. I already loved Twelfth Night, though, so going to see it was an obvious choice for me, and one I didn't regret.
posted by altolinguistic at 5:09 AM on January 19, 2013

I saw Propeller do Taming of the Shrew about four years ago and it remains one of the. best. shows I (a theatre studies graduate) have ever seen - and I generally have some serious problems with Taming of the Shrew as a text.

I have the dates marked in my diary for when tickets for Propeller's British tour go on release this year, they are THAT exciting.

Go and see either of their shows, depending on whether you generally prefer Twelfth Night or Taming Of The Shrew as plays - but if I were in your position I would go and see Twelfth Night because it is my favourite of the two options.

And let me know how it was :)
posted by citands at 11:16 AM on January 19, 2013

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