One of the first shows I saw on Broadway was Beauty and the Beast*. Even at 15 years old, I remember feeling perplexed by a subplot that did not exist in the movie. Evidently, the Beast never learned to read, and Belle needs to teach him how to read, and when he is learning to read he transforms into a bratty child. “Told ‘ya!” is his response to Belle when he correctly predicts a plot twist in the book she is reading to him… a line that always elicits giggles from children in the audience.
Unlike Beauty and the Beast, which forces adults to cringe through that condescending subplot for only two minutes, Finding Neverland is a two-and-a-half hour extension of that legacy started by Beast’s illiteracy. In short: Broadway musicals marketed toward children are allowed to stunt character development and sacrifice plausibility by creating adult characters that transgress in maturity for the sake of “comedy.”
Midway through Thrones! The Musical Parody, I came to a realization. I have spent more time in Westeros than in any other literary kingdom.
As an audiobook reader, I am through book four (of five). I have listened to 121 CD’s regaling every strategic move, sexual relation, and torturous murder in George R.R. Martin’s series. That’s roughly 141 hours, which we can easily round up to 150 hours with the additional time spent on Wikipedia, where I have outsourced my memory of minor characters that disappear for thousands of pages and then reappear as critical players.
Even with 150 hours under my belt, I only caught about 70% of the jokes in Thrones! The Musical Parody, but my ignorance did not reduce my enjoyment of this Scottish import currently extended at the Apollo Theater through January 15. The jokes that flew over my head reinforced that the fan worship of Game of Thrones is just as ripe for mockery as the series itself.
Experiencing Nick Dear’s adaptation of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein is like viewing a perfect negative imagine of the 1818 novel. The playwright shifts point of view and reworks the plot’s chronological structure, yet his script remains authentic to Shelley’s vision, highlighting the psychological tortures inflicted and endured by the two main characters while recreating the images most pertinent to novel’s horror and science fiction roots.