Crown of Shadows, the new (world premiere) production at Round House, is subtitled The Wake of Odysseus, and is a modernization of the story of Penelope and her son, Telemachus, who needs to grow the hell up before the state makes this presumed widow marry a despicable new king.
Normally I would come home after the play (which I saw on my usual Preview Thursday subscription night last week) and give a bit of a recap. But truthfully, I was tired, the play itself was draining, and I was distracted by the actress who played the ambitious little schoolgirl/love interest because she reminded me too much of my niece (incidentally a two-year RHT student summer program alum).
Julia Proctor (as Calliope) with Michael Morrow Hammack (as Telemachus), courtesy of Round House Theatre Facebook page.
I recognized Ms. Proctor right away from her previous RHT performance in The Picture of Dorian Gray (which apparently I didn't recap back when I saw it in 2009, though I can say I liked it a LOT better than the Washington Post's reviewer did). The characters she played were strikingly similar, both in their naive ambition and in their ill-fates.
Her resemblance to my niece was particularly disturbing because it made me realize that, as a then-aspiring actress, Rachel may have had to make some difficult casting decisions. With both Crown and Dorian, Ms. Proctor was required to simulate being sexually assaulted, with semi-nudity involved. Though I didn't discuss these choices with Rachel, I knew they never would have been hers. Just as well she switched from theater to business major.
I'll note also that I continue to enjoy seeing familiar actors in shows around town. Crown had a bit of a Sabrina Fair cast reunion, as both Proctor and Hammack had minor roles in the latter. (And, in checking my SF program, I see our pal Tom Story --from RHT's Next Fall, Ford's 1776--also played son of privilege, David Larabee.)
So this little segue leads me to the connection in the productions mentioned in the title of this post. And here I confess it isn't a particularly profound conclusion: In all of these, I see the corrosive effects of not power, but privilege.
In Richard III, which was read yesterday by my Shakespeare Readers group, I was especially struck by the differences between King Richard's battlefield speech and that of Richmond.
Richmond (oration to his Army):
If you do sweat to put a tyrant down,
You sleep in peace, the tyrant being slain;
If you do fight against your country's foes,
Your country's fat shall pay your pains the hire;
compared to a baser appeal from the tyrant himself
Richard (oration to his Army):
Remember whom you are to cope withal;
A sort of vagabonds, rascals, and runaways,
A scum of Bretons, and base lackey peasants,
Whom their o'ever-cloyed country vomits forth
To desperate ventures and assured destruction.
Don't worry, I won't belabor it for Titanic 3D - just think of the Cal Hockley character (played by Billy Zane). As with Telemachus and Richard, any attempt to deny his privilege of property is met with a pathological descent to subhuman violence.
Which brings us to Celebrity Apprentice. I've been wanting to talk about this show from the business perspective, but as my friend Patrick aptly pointed out, Celebrity Apprentice is to business as circus clown cars are to Transportation.
Now, you know I am only watching this crap because of Clay Aiken. And while Trump and his privileged offspring are actually very well behaved compared with most of the celebrities (Clay most definitely excluded), the aggressive sense of entitlement is just simmering below their waxy surfaces. Though they clearly have several brain cells among the three of them, and are trained in spotting weakness, their main talent is telling Daddy Trump what he wants to hear. God forbid they lose their entitlements by displeasing the king.
As evidence I present to you Failure to Launch (video of full episode available on NBC.com until June 4), in which Daddy Trump petulantly fires Adam Carolla for the sin of not being surnamed Andretti (racing royalty), and Andretti for not being as smart about cars as his name would imply, thus displeasing the brand, Buick, that wanted an Andretti endorsement on the cheap.
Look at the presentations of the two teams (the "winning" team mispronounced the Buick product being sold, among other flubs), and then look at the childrens Trump telling Daddy that he did the right thing.
Okay, I'm done. I have no privilege, so I'm just a yammering jealous little what-not. And I still love Clay Aiken. *g*