Tuesday, May 31, 2016
In “Romeo & Juliet”, a stage play of some renown, William Shakespeare brings on an Apothecary to furnish Romeo the poison that he will take to kill himself and finally bring this romantic tragedy to its tragic conclusion. Now if the Bard of Avon had written this today, the Apothecary would have been a mere advancer of the plot is, a guy in a white lab coat who probably doesn’t even get a line. But because this was Shakespeare, the Apothecary gets not only a few lines that sing, but his own little arc within - he pays his poverty, see, and not his will. Respect.
I like that thinking of that way because that’s basically the way the Apothecary gets played by Hugh Fennyman. You remember Hugh Fennyman. He was “the money” in “Shakespeare in Love”, the guy who funded the Rose Theater to put on its various plays, for whom profits always came before art. Until he was granted a part in “Romeo & Juliet” by the Will Shakespeare and suddenly, delightfully becomes stricken with theatrical zeal. He memorizes his lines. He get himself a hat, just like one an Apothecary would wear. And when Fennyman takes the stage, he gives his lines everything he’s got. “Such mortal drugs I have, but Mantua’s law is DEATH to any he that utters them.” And those caps are not flippant; Tom Wilkinson, playing the Apothecary, hits that word like a guy trying to make his moment in the spotlight last.
I like thinking about that so often that I thought it about the other night when at the commercial of some Sports Event I was watching, I flipped over to “The Rock” at commercial. And as I watched “The Rock”, there was a character, in a suit, in a conference, looking solemn, in the midst of grave goings-on, who picked up a phone and punched in a number and said this: “Get me the pentagon.”
Do you ever think about what might happen if you were ever enlisted, Fennyman-style, for a single scene in a feature film? What movie would you want to be in? Who would you want to be in the movie? And what would you want to say? Well, just like I don’t think Fennyman ever would have guessed that a romantic tragedy centered around a pair of imprudent teenagers would have been his choice, I don’t think I ever thought a Michael Bay movie would be my choice – or, perhaps more accurately, a Michael Bay-ish movie, a summertime blockbuster, a tentpole, a popcorn flick, a box office striver, a big dumb action-y movie where the dialogue is even dumber.
I close my eyes and I can see it. I would be in a suit. I would be in a conference room with other people in suits. I would be solemn for the goings-on would be quite grave. I would pick up a phone. I would punch in a number. I would say: “Get me the Pentagon.”