Monday, August 13, 2012

Messing With The Ending

Coriolanus bringing out the boy to end the play last night is certainly not the first example of a director taking some license with the ending.  Does Romeo die knowing that Juliet is alive?  Baz Luhrman thinks so.  And then there's that old example that I always forget to attribute properly where Fortinbras, "Go, bid the soldiers shoot" is actually a command to execute Horatio, the last survivor.  And speaking of Coriolanus, plenty of people were upset at just how differently the movie ended compared to the play.    (Related, I actually saw a neat Hamlet once where the ghost of Polonius came to walk the ghost of Ophelia offstage.  Great way to get the actress' dead body offstage.  But we're talking about endings here, and not middles.)

So here's my question - what productions have you seen (stage or screen) where the director kept to the script, but decided to throw in a twist you weren't expecting?  Of course, "kept to the script" is subject to interpretation since the whole play is already edited to the director's vision.  In general, though, I'm talking about visual and action that happens in between the text.  Whether Romeo knows is based entirely on whether Juliet opens her eyes, and he sees it.  Stuff like that.


Reynaldo Makefoil said...

I saw a Julius Caesar once where Antony, in the middle of his final speech over Brutus's body, notices he's not quite dead and casually finishes him off.

Pretty much every Taming of the Shrew I've seen ends with a wordless implication that she's not actually tamed.

Bill said...

This one time, I saw a production of Twelfth Night where Malvolio comes back onstage at the end and takes out the whole cast with an Uzi.

No, not really. But feel free to use the idea.

Measure for Measure ends with the Duke proposing to Isabella, but we never hear her answer. This is something that any stage production must deal with in one way or the other.

In my time, I've seen various Isabellas recoil in horror, sheepishly take his hand, freeze in disbelief, warmly hug him, etc. One production I saw just cut the lines, which in retrospect seems like the only sensible choice.

JM said...

Volumnia. How does your little Sonne?
Virgilia. I thanke your Ladyship: Well good madam.
Vol. He had rather see the swords, and heare a Drum, then looke upon his Schoolmaster.

Like father like son...?
Valeria goes on to describe how he ripped apart a beautiful butterfly with his teeth after tormenting it by catching it over and over.

I'd say it was more of a symbolic/dramatic button rather than an ending change per se. I've seen lots worse done--as you apparently have.
I vote no harm/no foul in this case. A nice, thought provoking image, harmless to the text which, as we see, supports it.

Harriet said...

Following on from Bill ...

I saw a Russian language production of Twelfth Night (Chekhov International Theatre Festival in co-operation with Cheek by Jowl at the Theatre Royal ... on tour to the Sydney Festival) where Malvolio exited WITHOUT saying "I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you". Then right at the very end, when everyone is celebrating, he came back on in his servant’s dress, served them all drinks, and then came to the front of the stage and said “I’ll be revenged on the whole pack of you” in a really menacing tone. One wonders what was in the drinks ...

JM said...

Hamlet (film)--If I'm remembering correctly, Olivier gave Fortinbras' final lines to Horatio.

JM said...

One more--Recently saw a production of R&J where *all* the dead characters(previously alive in the play)rose in the graveyard after the Prince delivered the 'Sunne for Sorrow" finale. I think they were attempting to represent "monuments"...or something. All in all, a rather protracted, distracting, self-indulgent, and anti-climactic directorial "statement". I got the idea, sort of, but... silly if you ask me; not in the least because it took forever, it seemed, to accomplish.

Sasha said...

About the Hamlet, that sounds like a great way to get rid of bodies! (Someone please tell me I'm not the only actor who's ever had to be a dead body and offstage... when the lighting person forgets to do the blackout.)
I saw a movie version of R&J in which Juliet opens her eyes as soon as Romeo has taken the poison and they stare at each other for a few heartbreaking seconds.