(As discussed below, some of the text for this review, of a play at Shakespeare in the Park, was only posted overnight, two years ago.)
The four young women, who are watching As You Like It, are from Mainland China. They do not know that the previous Wednesday, a press assistant, from the Public Theater, had asked me to take down my blog notes regarding the production. The request rattled me, as I was surprised anyone had even read it—I had gone to the play on June 9, 2012 and was directed to take down the post on June 13--almost as soon as it was published. I e-mailed back, “Hi, it's Bob,” blood pulsing and hurriedly making a typo, “I waited in line just like everyone else without special consideration from your press office. I am simply acting as a citizen journalist. . . .” I did comply with the request, however, in deference to a reviewer’s embargo until June 21, and the fragments were withdrawn from the Web site. Then, the following day, from a separate press person, at a different agency, an invitation appeared in my in-box—a new play was offered for me and a friend to attend, also directed by Daniel Sullivan and starring John Lithgow.
Sitting on the forest-green benches, near the Romeo and Juliet statue, outside of the Delacorte, waiting to chaperone the young women back to their dorm after the play is over, I am listening to Steve Martin’s music, being played live. I imagine that it has been shortened, so that Orlando (David Furr) can vent his frustration to the servant, Adam (MacIntyre Dixon), earlier. Later, when two members of the backstage crew sit near me to discuss work schedules and one smokes, it has become very dark; I wonder if the actress Lily Rabe, as Rosalind, is less mannered with Orlando than I saw her (ultimately, her reviews—as well as that of the entire production--from the New York press will be excellent; but we did not know this at the time). I was not the only one who thought the show needed salvaging on the second night of the run, either. A youthful couple clearly couldn’t concentrate, their hands feeling each other up, however tentatively, in the row in front of ours (it did not make me comfortable that my fifteen-year-old daughter was sitting beside me). Then, before abruptly leaving at intermission, a woman with a loud, heavy, monotone accent cell-phones a friend, protesting, “It’s not Shakespeare; it’s boring.” My notes pick up: