Last night I saw Shakespeare in the Park's "Merchant of Venice" with my roommate Keira. I can't believe how lucky we got in getting the tickets. Keira did the online queue and she got them - there was no waking up at 4 AM to sit on a blanket in Central Park and make friends with other weary-eyed Shakespeare/Al Pacino fans. In 2006 I bribed some people on line with a breakfast the following morning if they let me join them at around 7 AM the next day. That was for Meryl Streep.
Well, last night it was Al Pacino's moment to shine. What was most impressive to me was not Mr. Pacino's work, I was expecting the best from him, yet the other actors were completely at the same level as he and some even stole scenes. It was unbelievable. There's something about outdoor theater that makes it so much more "real." I escape into the world even more because the characters don't enter and exit behind a curtain, it appears as if they literally do leave, wandering off into the woods somewhere as the sun sets and the bugs flutter in front of the subtle lighting. At one point a huge white bird flew in the background and drew my attention away for a moment. The whole evening was perfect.
My favorite part was immediately after Pacino's Shylock was baptized. He left the pool sopping wet, dejected, humiliated and exited the stage, his back to me, into such an intense light that his shadow reached grew across the length of the stage, pouring over the edge. It was an inspiring evening and gave me a much needed boost of motivation. I've seen so many great actors on stage: Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Patrick Stewart, Kevin Kline, Christopher Walken. City living can be extremely difficult, especially for a girl who grew up fond of quiet nights with crickets and fireflies, but being in the middle of Central Park, watching one of the best actors of all time perform a work by arguably the greatest playwright of all time made every loud honking horn and hot sleepless night in my teensy tiny East Village apartment completely worthwhile.