Into the Woods reviewed by Helen Avila
March 16, 2015 at 12:13 pm #1509HelenMember
February 27, 2015
<i>Into the Woods</i>
February 25, 2015
Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre
Theater is a unique form of art that engages its audience to feel, to become one with the actors on stage, and to experience another world never before seen. On February 25th, the production <i>Into the Woods</i> showed a little bit of everything. Enough music to keep you entertained, witty comebacks that make you laugh out loud, moments of joy that make you smile and moments of sadness that made you gasp with shock or despair. It’s a production that calls attention to itself, not just for the well thought out design of the stage or for the various use of each stage prop/actors, but because <i>Into the Woods</i> uses fairy tales to convey the theme that everything we do has consequences, so to be careful for what we wish for. Three moments in the play that stood out were when Cinderella first encounters the Baker’s Wife while running from the Prince, the reunion between Jack and his pet cow, and when the Witch throws herself in the path of the Giant to die. These moments do not perfectly convey the theme of the play, but they hold something essential individually.
For example, when Cinderella collides into the Baker’s Wife while running away from the prince, the Baker’s Wife was wandering in the woods alone trying to find the cow that her husband had obtained (one of the four objects the witch had ordered them to bring to her) to no avail. It was late into the night and the wife was close to giving up on finding the cow when suddenly Cinderella clumsily trips into the scene face first. When she was first introduced into the play, Cinderella wore dirty unappealing clothing that made you feel pity for her situation. Yet when Cinderella ran into the wife no longer was she in poor clothing, instead she was in a gold sparkling dress that shimmered with her movements. The lighting only helped to distinguish the gold, the light hitting the dress made it more luminous against the dark wood like background, leaving me dazzled by it’s color. I was dazzled enough to agree with the wife’s question as to why Cinderella was running away from the prince. Wasn’t that what she wanted? What she had wished for?
It turns out that Cinderella herself wasn’t sure of what she wanted. We see this throughout the play when she goes to the festival and runs from the prince each time she encounters him. She asks herself what is it that she wants, does she want him to catch her? Does she want to know more about him? What if he doesn’t accept her? However, believing that she needs the prince and a life of luxury to lift her from her situation, she eventually goes with him to live happily ever after. Though instead of being happy she is restricted all over again, this time in a cage of gold. Wearing a fancy gold dress doesn’t necessarily mean that life will be easier or better. Cinderella in her gold dress is a fleeting moment of indecisiveness of wanting temporary happiness over finding true happiness within oneself. It connects with the theme of the play, be careful what you wish for; for not everything is what it seems. Cinderella wished for something beyond the tiring life she lived with her stepmother and sisters, wanting someone who would sweep her off her feet. Instead, Cinderella figures out that her dream may not be what reality entails. She ended up breaking things off with her cheating prince and decides to live with the rest of the fairy tale characters that survived the attack of the Giant, as the ordinary girl she was in the beginning.
Jack brings about bigger problems that no one ever thought possible. Through all the choices that he made, the one that brought great joy to the heart and a smile to our faces (probably a few tears too) was when Jack was reunited with his pet cow. Earlier in the play, in the middle of the woods somewhere, Jack was tricked by the Baker into selling his cow to him in exchange of a few magical beans that would feed him and his mother. Since he was off to sell the cow for money to buy food, Jack parted ways with his best friend and broke our hearts. However, when both Jack and his cow found each other again, by wandering around the woods, it was as if time had stopped for them. They looked at each other and with a great big cry of joy from Jack, and a moo cry from his pet cow, both embraced each other in a well awaited big hug.
The reunion between Jack and his cow show the theme of the play in a lighter perspective. Jack since the beginning of the play did not want to leave his cow but was forced to. However Jack wanted nothing more than to get his cow back and he went by any means to get it, even endangering his life. One would think him wishing he had his cow back is foolish, yet the reunion between the two showed that some friendships are worth more than any amount of money. It also was a moment that stuck out to me because it reminded me of my friendship with my best friend. She has been there through thick and thin, and even though we have had difficult times dealing with each other, we wouldn’t want it any other way. It also made me nostalgic because I haven’t seen her in over half a year, due to distance. If this scene was ever to be taken out of context, the effect it would have would probably be the same because it would still be showing a boy reuniting with his best friend. And to that, many of us can relate to with or without a play to explain what has been going on.
Another scene that could be taken out of context and still have the same shocking/saddening effect on us is when the Witch throws herself under the foot of the Giant after her final song. In the first Act of <i>Into the Woods</i>, we are informed that the Witch took a baby girl from the Baker’s father years ago and named her Rapunzel. Isolating Rapunzel from the world in a tower, the Witch thought to keep her safe and love her as her own. The Witch sends the Baker to find four objects that will aid her to gain her youth again, so she could live forever with her Rapunzel. However by the end of Act I, Rapunzel feels nothing but hate towards the Witch and wanders the woods in tears. It is in Act II that Rapunzel meets a tragic end. While stumbling once again into the the Witch, Rapunzel runs away from her not heeding her cry to stop, where before the eyes of everyone present, Rapunzel is killed by the Giant. Overcome by grief and anger, the Witch goes off to find Jack to give him to the Giant. Yet even though she does succeed in finding him, nothing is the same for the Witch now that Rapunzel is dead. With a last bitter, sad and emotional song, the Witch throws herself under the step of the Giant to meet the same fate as Rapunzel.
Watching the Witch decide to kill herself out of grief made me feel upset, sad and indecisive about who to blame. As I watched her face twist in grief, I was caught between wanting to comfort her and letting her cry it out. It made me realize how much power love has over us and how much meaning certain people have in our lives. It’s scary. As her song was coming to end, her intentions of what she was planning to do were becoming clearer and as a first instinct, the plea to tell her to stop was on the tip of my tongue. Her grief was so great, that I forgot that I was watching a play. The Witch thought that by isolating Rapunzel and only letting Rapunzel interact with her, she was going to love her. However, the Witch realizes too late that in dictating how Rapunzel should live and keeping her by force, she was destroying whatever bond they had. Another example that not everything is what it seems, and to be careful for what we wish.
All in all, <i>Into the Woods</i> teaches us that we shouldn’t take what we have for granted and to not desire what we don’t have. Everything we do has consequences, no matter how small the decision. The colors, the set, the actors, they all worked together to make the funny and memorable production of <i>Into the Woods</i>.
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