Home Video Review: 'Slings And Arrows' | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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/.

NPR

In This Test Kitchen, The Secret To A Great Cookbook Is Try, Try Again

Yotam Ottolenghi and his partner have a thriving food empire that includes wildly successful cookbooks. We go inside their London test kitchen as recipes are put through their paces.
NPR

Bugs: Not What's For Dinner — Until They're Tastier, Maybe

A U.K. researcher says the environmental argument for eating bugs isn't working on its own. She says chefs and policymakers must "make insect dishes appeal as food, not just a way to save the planet."
NPR

Nebraska Legislators Overturn Governor's Veto Of Death Penalty Repeal

NPR's Audie Cornish speaks with Nebraska Sen. Jerry Johnson, who said he switched his vote in the decision to repeal the death penalty in Nebraska after speaking with his constituents.
NPR

Questions Remain About How To Use Data From License Plate Scanners

The scanners are standard equipment for police, but what's not settled is what happens to all the data collected. That data can link people to certain addresses and flag unusual activity.

Leave a Comment

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