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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

SLINGS AND ARROWS (2003-2006)

SLINGS AND ARROWS is just about the best tv to come across our Northern border since Hockey Night in Canada. If you’ve ever been a regular at a major theatre fest (especially Stratford in Canada), the three series (6 episodes each) will prove irresistible. But you don't need even a nodding acquaintance with Shakespeare or backstage politics to get hooked. Year One, which is keyed to a production of HAMLET, is the most balanced of the series (with a pre-Hollywood Rachel McAdams acting out her future career arc), but years Two (MACBETH) & Three (LEAR) aren’t far behind. (Year Two takes a couple episodes to get in gear, but the final season gets a grand emotional charge from its guest-star, longtime Stratford alum William Hutt who is alternatingly terrifying & tender as Lear.) Paul Gross is enormously appealing as the new artistic director who's hounded by the ghost of his late predecessor/mentor. And he even gets to have an age appropriate romance with the festival’s leading tragedienne. If your kids are old enough to handle the sex & language, have them watch along with you. You can bet they'll want to see the next available production of HAMLET, ROMEO & JULIET, MACBETH and LEAR after seeing how much sheer fun, drama & devotion these works engender.

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