Letter at Length

'Very Merry Wives' misses exuberance

The positive review the Tidings gave "The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa" that opened at OSF, missed some important points in the production. Although an adaptation of the Shakespeare comedy, "Merry Wives of Windsor," it carries none of the original exuberance or great characters of the classic.

This "Wives" is full of jokes on lesbians, and more P.C. lessons about homosexuality. It's not that the audience can't get the concept that gays are OK, it's that the artistic director of the festival can't get the idea that he isn't producing shows in Mississippi.

Then there is the blatant product placement — a new horror. We do not get actors smoking and showing off their brand; instead we hear names of people who are apparently big supporters of the festival mixed into the dialogue of the play.

How long, then, until we hear in Macbeth that the knife he uses in the famous "is this a dagger that I see before me" speech, is available at Bi-Mart? I guess that with the festival's almost $30 million annual budget, they need the money.

This year we have the magnificent "Romeo and Juliet," "The Seagull" — one of the best Chekhov plays staged anywhere at any time — and the comic perfection of "Animal Crackers," as well as the visual glory of "The White Snake."

Why so much "experimental theater" with Shakespeare often apologized for by being made present-day, minority-minded and dumbed-down? This season, with two over-the-top shows, "Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella" and "Wives," takes another step toward our festival becoming "The Oregon 'Shakes and Jive' Festival."

Of course many on the staff at OSF are humiliated by such shows, but who is to speak up and lose their job? All the great, distinguished artists, scientists, economists, writers, politicians and soldiers who are gay are not honored here, they are lampooned. For shame.

Where is the honor and regard for gays themselves? Our mutual sadness at our parents or some ancestor having made life dreadful for those who are different is our shame. We do not need to pay almost a hundred a ticket for their guilt and punishment.

Audiences that should know better, laugh, and encourage jokes on gays to prove they are not prejudiced or something. Audiences are not supposed to be manipulated, but enlightened. There is a difference.

Continual comic depictions of and about gays do not promote acceptance, but resentment. The theater is supposed to open the truth for the audience to decide, not close truth with the preaching of ultra-liberal sanctimony. Where is the dignity and respect owed gays? Unfortunately, not here.

Leah Ireland

Ashland

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