After months of being consumed by the premiere of my own play, I finally got a chance to get back to seeing other people’s plays this weekend, starting with The Bald Soprano by Eugène Ionesco, in a brand new translation by Rob Melrose — the person I once called “the best interpreter of absurdism in the Bay Area and possibly the planet.”
I stand by the quote. This was a wonderful translation, based on Rob’s realization upon seeing the original French production, still running in Paris after playing over fifty years, that, as he put it in the program, past productions of the play “can often veer off into ornate parody of British people.”
Seeing the French production (which doesn’t try for a British accent or particularly British costumes), made me realize that these overly British productions tend to miss the point. Ionesco himself said that if he had been learning Italian or Russian or Turkish, then the characters would be Italian or Russian or Turkish. If anything is being parodied, it is the simple language of textbooks….
That, of course, because, as anyone who reads this blog probably knows, The Bald Soprano was inspired by Ionesco’s trying to learn English and noticing how absurd and inane the dialogues of the husband and wife in the textbook were. “You are my husband. I am your wife. We have three children. The cat is on the chair. The monkey is on the branch.”
This production rocked, from the translation to the hilarious and precise movement of each of the killer actors. The audience really dug it, and not just because it was opening night — although that always does give the room a nice post-show buzz.
In fact, we ended up laughing and eating and drinking and talking for twice as long as the play itself. Caught up with some local theater people I haven’t seen since before the summer. Got some good news about a play of mine that I’ll share later, when it’s official. And all in all had a really fun night.