Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Beowulf – A Thousand Years of Baggage at the A.R.T.'s Oberon

It has taken me some time to be able to sort out my thoughts and feelings about this production of Beowulf at the A.R.T.’s  Oberon to be able to put together a review worth sharing with the readers of The White Rhino Report.  A review is by nature a very subjective description of a theater-going experience.  This review will be even more subjective – and shorter – than usual.

The problem lies with the “baggage” that I brought to the theater the evening that I saw Beowulf performed.  It was only a few days after the Marathon bombings, and I simply was not ready to process this production’s dramatic imagery of dismemberment and mayhem. (See poster art above) Through no fault of those working valiantly to tell the epic story of Beowulf, for me it was the wrong play at the wrong time.  I walked away at the end of the play as numb as I had felt on the the sidewalk on Boylston Street the Monday of the Marathon – not sure what to think and feel.

Having given you my personal response, let me add that the artists – actors and musicians especially – labor stalwartly to present material that is not easy to digest.  Most of us wrestled with reading Beowulf in high school.  Facing that “elephant in the room” squarely, this production pokes fun at the difficulty of gaining access to the epic tale, and begins with three very stereotypical academics opining about esoteric aspects of the tale and its meaning and application to the modern world.  These nerdy professors transform into characters in the tale.  The musicians are on stage and some also serve as characters in the play.
Each of them is to be commended for their work.
Academic 1
Academic 3
Warrior Vocals
Academic 2
Clarinet/Bass Clarinet
King Hrothgar/Piano
The play will run through the end of this weekend.  Now that the smoke has cleared and life in Boston is returning to some semblance of normalcy, this may be a better time to see the show and allow the arts to help with the healing and the processing of difficult images in trying times.

American Repertory Theater - Beowulf


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