Opening Performance, February 25, 2012
at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
The White Snake
Written and Directed by Mary Zimmerman
Playwright Mary Zimmerman has distilled an ancient, often modified, Chinese legend of The White Snake into a coherent, relevant, engrossing, artistic, and accessible 138-minute story. The text is stylized and full of Eastern cultural references, but Zimmerman’s lively, humorous, and rich approach somehow [“somehow” as in “the magic happens here”] honors the fable’s roots while letting it transcend its place and time of origin.
The White Snake avoids being artsy fartsy as Zimmerman’s works have been in the past (I’m thinking specifically of Berkeley Rep’s Metamorphoses which I disliked, its later Broadway Tony notwithstanding), and instead rises to a mesmerizing blend of straight-forward narrative, stylized symbolism, humor, gorgeous visuals, and conflicting morality. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s own January-deadline publications warned that the script had not yet been written, yet at its opening the play was polished, professional, and ready for prime time. ( Collapse )
The White Snake is surprising and wonderful theater. It’s a good story, excellently extracted and written, played out expertly on the stage with music, movement, and words. Although brand new, no flaws grabbed me. Its running time is a bit awkward, and I would probably find 10 minutes to cut, but where? The experience is a memory-producing winner.