Home Video Review: 'Slings And Arrows'

Play associated audio

Time now for a home-viewing recommendation from movie critic Bob Mondello. He recently caught an online episode of the Shakespeare-centric comedy Slings and Arrows and says it reminded him how much he liked the whole series.

Even though he's a major character, Oliver, a flamboyant director at the fictional New Burbage Theater Festival (modeled on Canada's Stratford Shakespeare Fest) gets killed by a truck in the first episode of the first season of Slings and Arrows. A truck labeled "Canada's Best Hams," no less — appropriate for a guy who deals with actors. Of course, if you know your Shakespeare, you know death won't keep Oliver down.

Ghosts pop up all the time in the Bard's work — particularly in Hamlet, the show Oliver was about to stage for the festival. Now, it must go on with an even more flamboyant director, one who takes that line about there being "something rotten" in the state of Denmark seriously.

"I want a rank and foul-looking, foul-acted and if possible foul-smelling Hamlet," he tells the cast on the first day of rehearsals. "Questions?"

Slings and Arrows isn't just a backstage comedy; it's a romp about the whole business of running a theater festival — from fundraising fiasco to opening night meltdown. Also about the movie stars who drop in, and the egos, feuds and cases of nerves that make live theater such an adrenaline rush.

It's kind of a predecessor — though much funnier and more sophisticated — to the NBC musical series Smash, with the enormous advantage that this series has not musical comedy but the Bard's plays to hold the mirror up to nature. And happily, it gets the Shakespeare right.

A cult hit for three six-episode seasons, Slings and Arrows found fresh comedy each season in the production of a Shakespearean tragedy: Hamlet the first season, Macbeth the second, King Lear the third. It's not just fun; you'll get the plays in ways you never have.

The show will prove addictive if you're a theater nut, and if you're not, it may help you become one.

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Aug. 3, 2015

You can hear female vocalists perform blues and bluegrass at two concerts this week.

WAMU 88.5

Farms, Coasts And Air Conditioning: What Climate Change Means For Virginia

Climate change presents obstacles for just about everywhere in the United States — but rising temperatures are expected to be felt keenly in a number of Virginia's important economic areas.

NPR

Obama To Detail Tougher Plan To Fight Climate Change

President Obama will unveil climate change regulations Monday, expected to set tougher limits on coal than previously proposed. NPR's Scott Horsley previews the announcement with host Rachel Martin.
NPR

Despite Host Controversy, Amazon Takes A Chance On 'Top Gear'

The trio that made Top Gear the world's biggest car show will return to the small screen in a new show for Amazon Prime. The BBC canned one of its hosts last year after a fight with a producer.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.