Monday, May 18, 2015

Man and Superman - The Wrap Up

I didn't know if I could stay awake during Man and Superman. I got so interested in the reviews and then in the links that the reviews referred me to, that I whiled about my afternoon thinking about either the play or about George Bernard Shaw. 

Imagine going to a link and taking a test to see if I can guess what George Bernard Shaw would say. I did so poorly that the test invited me to try again. And it showed me the list of answers so that I could get more of them right.

George Bernard Shaw is so witty.  Right out of my league.  If I get half of what's going on I are doing well. It was fun. It was long. I took Kelvin. Rebecca took Alex and Duncan. The play is 115 years ago so it so not as accessible as other plays.

What's fascinating is that Ralph  (pronounce Raif) Fiennes who plays the main character wanted to do this play. He went out to find someone to direct it.  He argued for keeping the dream sequence about hell in the play, though it can be done with out it.  

One of the reviewers remarked that the dream sequence makes the last act infinitely more interesting. I agree with that reviewer.  Take it out and you just get a comedy of manners.  The dream sequence is well worth the extra long run of time.

The main character has so many lines.  He was rarely off the stage.  Of course he was brilliant, both as the co-executor of a will ... and as a man who didn't believe in marriage.. and playing the part of a man in hell who was so bored in hell that he thought he might want to try out heaven.

One of the critics mentioned that Fiennes took a physical stance -- often one leg was forward.  Being alerted to that, when it would happen, I felt this wonderful happiness -- like my critical faculties had been enhanced and that I was getting more out of the play than I might.

I met an old friend in the hallway of the theatre at the intermission, one whom I came in contact with when I was on the Status of Women Action Committee.  I didn't know how to get into conversation with her quickly, so I just tried the lines of the play on her instead of saying a regular hello.  "Louisa ... Mendosa ... Louisa, Louisa, Mendosa",  was my greeting, for in the play a poet had just read a love poem, but not to his loved one.  He was practising it for the group ... showing them how deep his love was so that they could admire him.  I was laughing so hard -- the poem only showed his hubris. The shaping of her name was so beautiful.  He prolonged the vowels. His voice would rise and then fall. His head would turn upward.  His eyes would roll.  He would clutch the paper on which he had written those words. I tried to mimic as much of it as I could for her in the hall.  I had only had one viewing of the performance, but I must have caught the ridiculousness of it, for she tried to get me to do it for her friends she was laughing so hard.  I demured.

I asked Rebecca how the boys did at the play.  I have no idea how she gets them there, event after event.  And how it is that they enjoy it.  I am always afraid she will have a family rebellion on her hands -- them folding their arms and refusing to go one more time.  But that just won't happen as long as the National Theatre keeps broadcasting these events and making them so accessible.  There is something there for everyone.  I am often reminded of Richard Johnson coming home from speech lessons one time and saying to me he wanted to quit his lessons but he couldn't because the teacher was so much fun.  You can imagine how I loved that teacher.

At any rate,  there is a sequence where the woman and man are yelling at each other in Man and Superman.

Just to back up a bit, as Wikie says, 
"The plot centres on John Tanner, author of "The Revolutionist's Handbook and Pocket Companion", which is published with the play as a 58-page appendix. Tanner is a confirmed bachelor despite the pursuits of Ann Whitefield and her persistent efforts to entice him to marry her. Ann is referred to as "the Life Force" and represents Shaw's view that in every culture, it is the women who force the men to marry them rather than the men who take the initiative.
So that is what you have in the yelling match:  the confirmed bachelor (John Tanner) and the life force (Ann Whitefield) just screaming at each other. 

Rebecca told me that Duncan just loved this shouting  match.  I say with good reason.  I was entranced too. It captured nuances of any arguement that I have ever seen from afar, or been involved in closer than I wished to be.

A lovely evening.

When the actors came onstage to take their bows, Ralph Fiennes was bowing, smiling, getting eye contact with the audience, letting the glow of his countenace be seen, enjoying with them the wrap up of this beautiful performance. I thought hey, wait a minute. You go away, Ralph Fiennes.  Bring back  John Tanner.  Was he was only a figment of my imagination for 3 1/2 hours.  I want John Tanner back.  'Louisa ... Louisa ... Louisa ... Mendoza'.  Don't let it all be gone

I guess I answered my own question as to why Rebecca can get those boys to go back time after time.  


Day 21 of the One Hundred Best Days - Part II


  1. One last point that should make Duncan laugh. He probably knows already that the audience's job is to figure out why the playrite has given his characters certain names. Since GBS wrote the play as a modern day response to Don Juan, then the name John Tanner makes sense.

    I read that the very name "John Tanner" is obviously an anglicisation of the Spanish name "Juan Tenorio," which is the full name of Don Juan.

    A big wow to all of the stuff I learn after the play is over. :-)

  2. David did and redid the quiz on George Bernard Shaw until he scored 100% and was given the title of Superman. He and I both will never forget the answer to the question, "The greatest of evils and the worst of crimes is [what?]" We share a familial bond on that topic.

  3. I went back to take the test because I wanted to know the answer to number ten. I am going to give it away here, so no one else has to go take the test. The answer is poverty.

    Now as to taking the test? Last time I got 5/10. This time I got 6/10. Looks like I will have to take it four more times to get 10/10.

    I can do it.