The set of Lucy Boyle’s The Blue Deep, invites us to join Grace Miller at her Sag Harbor poolside, a pleasant enough scene, perhaps in some ways the reduced modern equivalent of the garden terrace of Algernon’s country house in The Importance of Being Earnest. Both of these plays which open the Williamstown Theatre Festival are about leisured families and are set, except for the first act of Earnest, in their comfortable country settings. At least two of Shakespeare and Company’s season openers are about families as well, Parasite Drag, and King Lear. It’s a wonder the Berkshire Visitors Bureau hasn’t started a family-oriented promotion over them. Certainly none of the families on view at WTF are in anywhere near the parlous danger of the unwholesome midwesterners of Parasite Drag. In the one instance where bullets fly, we know they’re only blanks, like everything else in that particular production. In The Blue Deep, on the other hand, there is breakage, first a beer bottle, then a cookie jar. A yet greater peril comes from the Super Glue used to repair the jar.
Something about Williamstown Theatre Festival’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” just didn’t click for me. It was not for lack of ideas — several clever, a couple brilliant. It was the flow. I noticed it right away when the stage couldn’t seem to set up a rhythm with the laughter in the house. When a comedy is really cooking, a rhythm sets up. It’s a kind of play, this back and forth. When it is really good, it has a naturalness, even an inevitability. That did not happen in the performance I heard (July 4). Lines were often lost in the laughter; the house was often slow to respond, and once in a while the response seemed forced.
I find myself torn between the temptation to write at length about these fascinating stage works by Zemlinsky and my responsibility to you, our readers, to let you know about this absolutely wonderful evening at the opera, so that you can grab some tickets before they all disappear. Yes, this will have to be short, and it cannot do justice to these brilliant operas or the amazing work all of those involved have put into these splendid productions. The experience was both profound and immensely entertaining.