Went to see Propeller’s latest last night, a Mexicali-themed Comedy of Errors at BAM. The troupe was all on stage playing various instruments with the house lights up as we filed into the upper balcony — when I’m not reviewing, I buy the cheap seats — & while it wasn’t their best by any stretch, they brought great verve and play to the show. What I like most about Propeller is how much fun they seem to be having at their high points, which here came toward the middle of the play, in the scene between Antipholus of Syracuse and Luciana, a wonderful game of overdone wooing, and also in the two Syracusans enthusiastic descriptions of Nell, the “spherical” kitchen wench in whom Dromio can find out whole Americas and Indies. (Shakespeare’s only use of the word America, btw.)
That said, the show did not have as much life as it might have. The physical comedy was exhausting & violent, & my favorite scene in the play, Egeon’s long description of his shipwreck and separation from his family, was static & frankly hard to understand, even for someone like me who’s got most of the lines by heart. His efforts to “speak my griefs unspeakable” sounded pretty dull — I know it’s only plot machinery, but that scene should, I think, ratchet up the emotional intensity in a play that soon becomes pure fooling. It should prime the pump for oceanic lines like Antipholus of Syracuse’s “I to the world am like a drop of water” and Adriana’s similar plea for a salt-infused self. Without that full force of immersion — “Nothing works like immersion,” somebody says — the violent farce lacks, well, depth. Propeller is always fun, but this production lacked urgency.
Which, perhaps, is why I was happy to leave at halftime & return for dessert to the Stonehome Wine Bar, which is always an excellent place.