Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Hour of Merlin is at Hand

Jeffrey Scott Holland's stage adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Birth of Merlin, long promised since Catclaw's inception almost two years ago, is finally here! It opens TONIGHT in Brooklyn, NY for four shows only - don't miss it!

What can you expect from this production? Here's some clues (Note: Spoilers!):

The play concerns a clown named simply Clown, who is escorting his pregnant sister Joan through the wilderness searching for the child's mysterious father, who turns out to be Satan. As Joan gives birth to Merlin, Satan summons Lucina (the Roman goddess of childbirth) and the Greek Moirae (The Fates) to witness.

Meanwhile, King Vortigern is attempting to build a new castle but it keeps collapsing. The King is told by his spiritual advisor that a "fiend-begotten child" must be blood-sacrificed to purify the construction site. At just that moment, the kooky entourage with baby Merlin shows up and, well, hilarity or something like it ensues.

The play was credited to William Shakespeare and William Rowley in a 1662 quarto, and the play has many fervent supporters of the Bard's hand in it. It also has many ardent detractors - like a certain Louisville professor who actually became visibly angry when I mentioned my intent to stage this play one day!

(It's important to remember that some plays we regard as in canon today once were considered heretically apocryphal. Pericles was once considered to be total Fakespeare before it finally became accepted. The Two Noble Kinsmen and King Edward III are relatively recent newcomers to mainstream acceptance, and Sir Thomas More is making great inroads towards it.)

Assorted warnings, cautions and caveats:

  • Do not attend if you are offended by a play featuring Satan being staged at Christmastime.

  • Do not attend if you suffer from Coulrophobia (fear of clowns).

  • Do not attend if you are offended by full frontal puppet nudity.

  • Do not attend if you're scared of East Flatbush after dark.

    There are no strobe lights in any Catclaw shows (we hates 'em!), but there is smoke, and there is splattering fake blood.