POST: FringeNYC's 'Far from Canterbury' I liked the snug feel

It was a warm but mild sunny day, a Wednesday to be exact. That one-day of the week where you begin to anticipate the weekend but still find that ounce of dread in yourself towards the remaining two days before the weekend actually arrives. My trip started out like most trips into the city do, a little nerve wrecking followed by the feeling of complete and utter disorientation. I am not a city person; I prefer the whole green/nature rather than seeing building next to building. Even though I am not a tourist, I’ve lived in Staten Island for the majority of my life, it still makes me feel like a tourist when I'm walking around with my phone displayed to the world with the map app open to navigate the way.

However, to my pleasant surprise, finding the theater was not too hard, but had I not been so observant I could have actually missed it. It was not at all what I had expected. It was small from the outside with two big black doors and a sign on them that the box office would open at 3:15. I was about 45 minutes early. If I hadn’t known, I would have thought that this theatre had been shut down. But that’s theatre for you, it’s more about preserving the art, which is to unfold on the inside.

Curiously began to spark because I only wondered what the inside would unfold for me. This was not what I was used to, I knew the musicals of Broadway with big displays. Those theaters made themselves presently known while this one remained more humble and hidden.

With some time to kill I took at walk around the neighborhood. I saw little shops and it seemed like an area where people might actually know their neighbors and converse with them, that the people who walk into these shops were considered “regulars”. All was quiet and to my surprise even the streets weren’t as crowded. There was no comparison between there and somewhere like Times Square. It was all simple and peaceful.

Now fast-forwarding to inside the theatre, it was how I imagined it all to be, very close and compact. To your 5 foot 10 Amazonian here, it felt a tad bit like Claustrophobia 101. The room was painted black and only illuminated enough so you could see where you were headed. I chose to sit right in the center, a little further back but still close enough to see everything. Surrounding me the audience was of all ages. What I happened to like more of all was that even family members of the actors and actresses were there in support to see their loved ones preform. I liked the snug feel.

I read the little blurb, about a Knight that is to find the one thing that women most desire. I was curious how that was going to play out. I was very amused with the concept of what women really desire most. As a woman myself, I couldn’t give you a definite answer. And I am pretty sure that my guess is just as good as anyone’s, but to have it narrowed down made me only want to know the answer. The answer that I did end up drawing from the musical was astonishing to me. It hadn’t occurred to me that an answer like that one could be so easily put but so meaningful, “the freedom to choose to write their own stories.”

I cannot even begin to explain how right that sounds to a feminist like myself. I only thought back to medieval times and how women were married off and how their sole purpose was to bare heirs. I couldn’t even fathom the idea of growing up during such an era. Choices are things we forget are not forced upon us. Just like with the character Agnes, when her father tried to marry her to a man she didn’t know, I couldn’t blame her for wanting to run away. If I were her I would do the same. The interesting part, later on, was that even when her childhood friend, Marcus, proposed marriage, even though she had some feelings for him she didn’t want to act upon them. She wanted to see the world first and explore, basically live a little and not be tied down. Who could honestly blame her. The way I see it, is that the world is constantly changing. 

Although the musical took place during Medieval times there was a modern twist to the costumes. For example, the main character John who happens to be the Knight wore your typical every day hoodie, a dark shade of blue. But the sleeves and hood of it were a sparkly grey shade almost metallic looking similar to that of what a Knights armor would be made of. I felt the symbolism behind it - he didn’t have to actually wear a suit of armor to play his role. 

Another concept from this musical was the whole idea of being crooked and pure. I found that idea so oddly intriguing. How you can’t judge a person based on their actions because you don’t know the intentions. Many times I have heard of people give the example - what if you are a husband and your beloved wife is dying and the only cure is this medicine that you cannot afford. Would you be honest and noble and not steal and leave your wife to die, OR do you drop that and risk going to jail so that your wife can live the rest of her life, even with you behind bars? Does it make you crooked for stealing or pure because your intentions were to spare a life? 

- Sylwia