In the grip of terror and incompetence, a few laughs wouldn’t hurt.
Nearly three hours of slapstick are being sent our way this week by the National Theatre in London – for free, unless you are inclined to donate.
Thursday was Opening Day, and I looked forward to it the way I normally look forward to baseball’s Opening Day.
Baseball teams normally open the season with their best pitcher; NTLive began with the smash hit from 2011, “One Man, Two Guvnors,” starring James Corden as an oaf in a checkered suit, willing to do almost anything for a few bob here and there.
Starving, he falls in with a bunch of grifters and mugs and hustlers and dimwits, the likes of which I had not seen since the last televised Cabinet meeting, except those blokes in DC are not funny at all.
The plays originated from the three-theatre shrine on the Southbank – our favorite place in England. My wife has been known to see two plays a day, all week long, while I was laboring at Wimbledon.
In recent years, a selection of the best plays has been available as NTLive in movie houses around the world, for a price. But with London shut down, NTLive found a way to send a selection to the huddled world, via the web and outlets like YouTube.
I could not locate it on the YouTube site, which contained a thousand things I did not want to watch and no apparent directory. But I was easily able to pull up “One Man” on my laptop.
Corden came into my periscope only recently, through his romp in “Carpool Karaoke” with Paul McCartney – on Penny Lane and other holy places.
That inspired us to catch “One Man, Two Guvnors,” when it popped up in Patchogue, Long Island, last fall, one day only. We roared as Corden performs pratfalls and inter-acts with the audience – including one charming plant – as his character escapes violence from his two raffish guvnors, as he ogles the pub food and also a new lady friend named Dolly.
This collection of characters has been adapted by Richard Bean from the original Servant of Two Masters (Italian: Il Servitore di Due Padroni), a 1743 Commedia dell'arte comedy play by Carlo Goldoni.
There is a bit of everything in “One Man, Two Guvnors” – various thugs, a ham actor, an old-fashioned skiffle band, a scheming woman in drag who knows how to brandish a knife, a charming little breakout of Calypso steel band, and a hapless old waiter – 86, with the shakes -- who keeps getting knocked down the stairs or hit by a cricket bat.
Gets your minds off the troubles for a bit. NTLive, bless its heart, has brought this diversion into our living rooms.
Without further ado, here is the link to the show:
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“One Man, Two Guvnors” is available at home until next Thursday, followed by weekly appearances of “Jane Eyre,” “Treasure Island” and “Twelfth Night,” with Malvolio as a woman, so 21st Century. It's almost always terrific.
We have already seen “Jane Eyre” and “Twelfth Night,” via NTLive, in The Kew Gardens Cinema,” in my home borough of Queens.
NTLive, we owe you,
Oh, there is a way to donate from The States. We just did.
4/3/2020 09:23:22 am
4/3/2020 11:55:42 am
Dear Altenir: I'm glad you watched. The physical humor is so good...Did Celia watch?The nice part is that it is available 24 hours so you could watch it at convenience in Lisbon. There's also the great Italian tradition of commedia.....opera bouffa....these stock figures, he refers to himself as Harlequin. They know what they are doing.
4/3/2020 12:39:28 pm
Celia did not watch. I love Goldoni. He wrote a beautiful play entitled "The Mistress of the Inn (Mirandolina)". This piece is very funny. I think the Met Opera House should do like the NT and show some operas. That would be great.
4/3/2020 05:05:49 pm
Altenir: I just looked it up,. They have been streaming highlights since mid March,. Today: The Pearl Fishers. I imagine they will continue beyond the original schedule. The Met was a pioneer in sending performances to movie theatres, about 15 years ago, Saurday only. We saw 1-2. Their leader is Peter Gelb, innovative, and the son of my boss when I worked on the Metro staff for the NYT. A kind of mad genius...and the apple didnt fall far.....
4/3/2020 11:59:33 am
We are looking forward to watching it later. We tried yesterday, but the YouTube recording started in the middle.
4/3/2020 05:09:42 pm
Alan, it sounds epic,. It's interesting when they try to change the time and look. At the Royal Shakespeare in theBarbican, we saw a Romeo and Juliet based in modern (1980s) Milano....with Juliet connecting via a Princess phone in a very upscale room. And the big fight begins when Mercutio keys the Maserati of Tibault. We still remember that.
4/3/2020 01:00:50 pm
Dear George -
4/3/2020 05:12:50 pm
Hi, Nancy, nice to see your name here. The good doctor would have welcomed Rx for entertainment/culture, Let us know what you think when you watch. Be well, G
4/3/2020 05:40:39 pm
4/3/2020 07:02:40 pm
4/4/2020 08:07:54 am
Altenir: By now you have probably discovered that the Met changes its offering daily. Today (Saturday) is Verdi's "MacBeth" with Ana Netrebko.
4/4/2020 10:01:24 am
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.