January, 25th 2010
By: toto_th too514
Edited by: Marcy
Even though this play Reading was really all about the main character of Caligula... Randy handled his role of the young poet/confidant w/ his usual professionalism. It was a very enjoyable evening at the theater w/ friends!
The version of the play I read was translated by Stuart_ Gilbert whereas the version presented last night at Red Bull was a more modern translation by David Greig. Although the story was basically the same, there was quite a bit of dialog that was changed. It was presented in 90 minutes w/ no intermission.
Caligula was definitely front and center throughout the Reading and Michael Urie did a wonderful job! He looked like he was having a ball playing insane! For those of you who aren't familiar w/ the play, Caligula sinks into insanity after the death of his lover and sister Drusilla and the reading opened w/ the elder patricians searching for him. He has been missing for days. Randy and Caligula's mistress discuss the missing emperor and the circumstances of his death. Randy, as Scipio relates his love and admiration of Caligula and describes being at Drusilla's death... later he is astonished as Caligula decrees that all the citizens of Rome must change their wills to make the State the beneficiary therefore making the killing of of the citizens by the State profitable. Scipio begins to sense the changes in his friend. Randy's involvement in Act I was obviously fairly limited.
In Act II Randy as Scipio has somewhat more meatier lines. It is now three years later and he is lamenting the fact that Caligula has put his father to death. He decided to join the elders who are conspiring to assassinate Caligula. He has a rather intense exchange w/ Caligula's mistress who tries to encourage Scipio to understand... his feelings of hatred slowly evolve as Caligula engages him w/ an intense recitation of Scipio's poem about nature. You could feel Scipio's excitement and hopefulness grow as he reads the poem w/ Caligula only to have his hopes dashed as Caligula admits that he finds the poem, "anemic." Scipio is crushed, having been so fooled and once again he slips into hatred calling Caligula a pitiful lonely black-hearted man. I really felt the emotions of this scene. I thought Randy and Michael did an excellent job of conveying such a wide range of emotions in a short scene. It still amazes me that these actors have only had a few hours of rehearsal for these Readings!
Act III opens w/ Caligula organizing a self worshiping event where the elders are humiliated into participating by spouting false praise and paying him money. Scipio fails to join in and accuses Caligula of blasphemy. Caligula claims he has actually saved countless lives by executing Rome's citizens instead of involving them in Wars. Randy does a nice job in conveying his disgust and disappointment in his friend. It is not the sheer admiration of Act I or the loathing, joy then crushing disbelief and abandonment of Act II... it's utter disillusionment. in all that he has held dear. It's Randy's shortest scene but still powerful.
Act IV opens w/ Scipio being recruited by the elders who are conspiring to kill Caligula. They plead w/ Scipio to jo them telling him remember his father's death. But Scipio has had a change of heart saying he cannot do to Caligula what Caligula did to his father. Using the same words Caligula's mistress said to him, he asks the leader of the conspirators to, "Try to understand." Caligula's right-hand man enters and chases Scipio away. He is aware of the assassination plot and is assembling all of the elders. In full blown insanity mode Caligula has all of the elders write poems for a contest of which he will the judge. The poems must use the theme of death. Everyone busily write except for Scipio. He is the last to recite and does so w/o having written anything. His poem wins the contest and Caligula asks him how he knows so much about death at his age to which Scipio replies that he was very young when he lost his father. With that Scipio, full of despair and finally coming to the realization that he has lost his friend says his farewells and leaves. The act ends w/ Caligula slowly strangling his mistress before the assassins stab Caligula to death.
Now w/ that all said, this more modern version was actually played for laughs in many places! Caligula refers to one of the elders as, "Ducky," MIchael was very frivolous and silly while playing w/ a lady's scarf and pretending to polish his toenails. He refers to Randy as, "Skippy.' In the scene where Scipio is chased away, Caligula's assistant pats him on the head and says, "You can leave now half-pint.' and then tussles his hair.
Part of the fun of a Reading is watching the actors as they sit waiting for their turn to speak. Randy came in stage full of smiles. He looked completely relaxed and at ease. He wore his traditional black skinny jeans and black lace up boots. He wore a grey scarf and had on the same light blue denim button down shirt he wore at the closing of Singing Forest w/ a gray long-sleeve thermal shirt underneath. He had his right sleeve rolled up to his elbow, the cuff of the other sleeve was open but not rolled up. He had about a week's worth of facial hair growth. His hair was short and fairly dark in the back and long and very blonde on the top. My best guess that it was frosted rather than high-lighted. It was many shades of blonde that shone in the stage lights. I liked it! Randy once again fiddled w/ his water bottle, at one point picking up Michael's and kind of staring at it for a moment. He also played w/ his hair and bounced his feet on the stool. He smiled often as he listened to the other actors. at one point having to stifle a laugh behind his script! When his part was done, he closed his script and just waited like a little kid for class to be over.
He stopped to talk to me and my friends very briefly after the show. I mentioned that he seemed to be enjoying himself and he agreed. I also mentioned that this version of the play was very different from the one that I had read. He sort of laughed and said that it was the only one he knew of since he first read it a few days ago. He wished us well and then was off. Oh, and he was wearing THE coat!
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Edited by Marcy