Posts Tagged Game of Thrones

Theater Review (DC): Jonathan Pryce in ‘The Merchant of Venice’ at the Kennedy Center

The Merchant of Venice is generally classified as a comedy, but the Shakespeare’s Globe production emphasizes the darker aspects of the play. Shylock the Jewish moneylender, brilliantly portrayed by Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones, Wolf Hall), stands upon the stage as a sympathetic and tragic figure by the end of the evening. It’s a pity that the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts featured only five special performances in Washington, DC.

Photo of Jonathan Pryce and Dominic Mafham

Jonathan Pryce (Shylock) and Dominic Mafham (Antonio). Credit: Manuel Harlan.

Director Jonathan Munby weaves together the acting and music in a way that immerses viewers in the merriment and excesses of the Venetian setting. A masque sequence is added at the beginning with dancing, drums, and shouting wonderfully choreographed by Lucy Hind. The actors moved about in the aisles to greet us, even going so far as touching the shoulders of theatergoers hurriedly taking their seats. The opening scene also displays the outsider status of passerby Shylock when these Christian revelers cease the music and attack him. Munby confronts us with persecution and thus directs our sympathy toward Shylock from the start.

Shylock is subject to manhandling and insults by Antonio (Dominic Mafham), the titular character who borrows 3,000 ducats. Interestingly, the worst taunt is when Antonio intentionally drops Shylock’s pocket-sized book of Hebrew texts. It’s a small yet moving moment, as Pryce stoops wearily to pick up the book and reverently brushes off the dust. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Doctor Who’ Brings Maisie Williams on for ‘The Girl Who Died’

Clara (Jenna Coleman), the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), and Ashildr (Maisie Williams).

Clara (Jenna Coleman), the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), and Ashildre (Maisie Williams). Photo Credit: BBC Worldwide Limited

Caution: This review contains spoilers.

The Vikings are Coming!

It’s another multi-episode story arc for Doctor Who, as viewers are introduced to Ashildre in “The Girl Who Died.” The offbeat and “strange” Viking girl is portrayed by Maisie Williams from the hit series Game of Thrones, a casting decision that’s generated buzz for months. Williams is neither the Doctor’s granddaughter nor someone else from his past. That revelation may leave some viewers disappointed, but I regard this weekend’s chapter as a strong venture onto some new ground.

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) embark on another adventure and end up getting captured by Vikings. His Sonic Shades are destroyed. The Time Lord tries to pass himself off as the god Odin, complete with yo-yo tricks. The “real” Odin appears in the sky, sending down beings in heavy armor. The creatures are identified as the Mire by the Doctor, harvesting “testosterone” from the strongest members of a species from places they visit. It’s creepy and admittedly a bit gross, but Ashildre (the “girl” in the title, if you hadn’t already guessed by now) is really the focus here.

Clara and Ashildre are taken along with the warrior Vikings, signaling that the latter young woman is not all that she seems. Her “oddness” around others and love for puppetry are qualities that attract the Doctor to her story. It also brings to mind the connection that Clara made with the belittled and frightened young Doctor in “Listen.”

Look Who’s Talking

Maisie Williams as Ashildre

Photo Credit: BBC Worldwide Limited

Clara and Ashildre survive the trap in the spaceship, meeting the mastermind, fake Odin. Ashildre rashly challenges fake Odin, who accepts it and sends the two women back. The Doctor is reluctant to help with the upcoming battle despite pleas from Clara and Ashildre. The strongest voice turns out to be a crying baby, wailing that he translates for everyone: “Hold me, Mother, I am afraid. Turn your face towards me, Mother … for you are beautiful … I will sing for you.” Capaldi teases out such a lovely tone to capture both the infant’s fears and reassurances, a little speech that might otherwise have floundered.

The Doctor, as we’ve seen previously (recall Stormy in “Closing Time”), is a sucker for babies and decides to stay. His attempts at training the remaining villagers with real swords ends disastrously and hilariously with the town on fire. Who needs the Mire when these fellows (the likes of Lofty, ZZ Top, Heidi, etc.) can take themselves out? Again, Lofty’s infant daughter is instrumental here, as the Doctor connects her reference to “fire in the water” with the eels in the barrels.

“I Can Do Anything”

The electricity from the eels very briefly immobilizes the Mire. Ashildre gets the honors of putting on the Mire helmet and projecting a dragon that frightens the aliens. Clara records everything on her phone, which the Doctor threatens to upload on the galactic internet of sorts. The modern blackmail is a nice touch. Overall, I would say that “The Girl Who Died” is certainly a vast improvement over last season’s “Robot of Sherwood,” another episode that combined a past century with armored enemies and a hidden spaceship. (I did enjoy that spoon fight last year, I admit.)

Ashildre dies from the effects of the helmet, prompting a passionate moment from the Time Lord. We finally get an answer about the Doctor’s face and why it looks like that of Caecilius, a Roman that he (David Tennant) rescued in “Fires of Pompeii.” The Doctor remembers that exact face and that he broke the rules to save that life: “To remind me. To hold me to the mark… I’m the Doctor and I save people!” That pronouncement doesn’t explain where John Frobisher of Torchwood fits into the mix, unless he’s a descendant of Caecilius.

“Dying is an Ability”

Alex Kingston's Q&A takes top spot on my list of best panels at Awesome Con. Photo: Pat Cuadros

Alex Kingston’s Q&A at Awesome Con. Photo: Pat Cuadros

There’s a bit of overkill as the Doctor repeats the warning about “ripples” or bad consequences if you interfere and do things you aren’t supposed to do. He revives Ashildre with a medical kit from the Mire and leaves a second one for her to use on “whoever she wants.” It’s a repair device that gives her immortality, almost like the regenerative abilities of the Doctor. However, Ashildre has a rather dark look after countless days pass for her, bringing another “fire” with which the Doctor will have to contend.

Another issue is the fact that those Sonic Shades are gone. At this year’s Awesome Con, Alex Kingston hinted that we have yet to see the Doctor with her screwdriver. The need for a new screwdriver and the news of River Song’s return this Christmas together suggest that we’re about to see it again. For now, check back next time for Maisie Williams’ return in “The Woman Who Lived.”

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