May 25th, 2009

Galen 2013

Death and the King's Horseman

Ashland, Oregon
at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Elesin (Derrick Lee Weeden) is imprisoned by colonial officials, and he misses the timing of his death. Photo by Jenny Graham.Death and the King's Horseman by Wole Soyinka

The rhythms, the timing, and method of communication in Death and the King's Horseman are not familiar or comfortable for a typical American play-goer. But, if you let yourself be absorbed into the opening long, chatty, riddling, market scene -- if you let your thoughts fall into the same tempo as the indirect, elaborate, and elegant storytelling dialog -- then Death will grab you from the opening curtain... err... more like opening colorful banner... and make you witness an unwanted, unavoidable, and unstoppable tragedy.

This vignette of colonialism is written by Wole Soyinka, a Nigerian, whose native conversational conventions and behaviors are skewed from the linear and logical lines which create traditional Anglo theatre experiences. Death is definitely recognizable as a play, and it follows dramatic rules, but it maintains a feeling of being somehow culturally foreign and richer.

The plot is simple.  The tribal king has died and according to custom his Horseman must prepare the way for the king on the other side. One step in fulfilling this duty is for the Horseman (Derrick Lee Weeden) to end his time on this side by killing himself.  The low-level English District officer (Rex Young) prevents the Horseman from carrying out this "barbaric" suicide.

The play and the production are anything but simple. Collapse )

Death and the King's Horseman is another "only at OSF" production, and that's said in a good way.  The work is from another culture and another mind set.  OSF has created an intelligent, quality, and consistent interpretation.  The result is much more than a night at the theatre that is "good for you".  It's a perspective-widening night at the theater which you will chew over and linger over for a long time.

Ozdachs Rating:  Rating: 4 out of 5 Syntaxes


The owner of the Ashland Bed and Breakfast we stay at told Geoff today that she thought we were nice and never complained.

Really!  The nerve!!  I cannot every recall being tagged as nice and polite!

I have legions of friends and acquaintances who know better.  I whine, I complain.  I think of myself as competently bitchy if not downright bitter.

I think I know the problem.  The B&B, Country Willows, is more like a resort than a room.  There's a full-size pool shared by the visitors to the only 9 guest rooms.  The grounds are an idyllic farm, and they're maintained within an inch of their life.  Debbie is a gourmet cook whose three-course breakfasts seem always to include fresh ingredients from the garden.  She also serves a choice of sweet (Dutch babies with warm apples this morning) or savory (fresh chard quiche today) main courses.

I could go on.  But, you see the issue.  Moreover, the innkeepers themselves tell of problems like they are confessing mortal sins:  today the room was not made up while we were at breakfast because the housekeeper had car problems -- it was cleaned during our morning swim instead.  Yet, we were notified of the delay in hushed tones as if the appropriate response would be a beating.

So, yeah, I guess we don't complain too much. But, just here.  Not in real life.

And, we recommend the B&B for a night or a two-week stay. Here's our plug:  Country Willows, 1313 Clay St, Ashland, OR . (541) 488-1590.  Here's what it looked like yesterday after breakfast.

Ashland, OR B&B