If you’ve ever wondered how the Great Bard would’ve rendered one of the Coen Brothers’ most beloved films, then look no further than the Liberty Theater’s latest production, “William Shakespeare’s Lebowski: Prince of Ninepins.” The curtain rises on this zany spoof Aug. 11, at the North Bend venue.
The Coen Brothers’ 1998 film, “The Big Lebowski” is a soft-boiled, slacker noir romp involving bowling, ransoms, nihilists, and a ruined rug that, “tied the room together” according to the main character, known as “The Dude.” Played without equal by Jeff Bridges, the Dude goes on a number of bizarre escapades.
In this scene, he meets the title character, the Big Lebowski, played by the late David Huddleston.
Lebowski: “Are you employed, Mr. Lebowski?”
The Dude: Look, let me explain something. I’m not mr. Lebowski; you’re mr. Lebowski. I’m the Dude. So that’s what you call me. That, or Duder. His Dudeness. Or El Duderino, if, you know, you’re not into the whole brevity thing.”
Twenty-four years later, “The Big Lebowski” has retained its cult following. And now it’s been reworked as an Elizabethan-style parody that simply has to be experienced.
Sir Walter IV: “So what do you propose, Dude? When one gets divorced, does one carve out one’s tongue that was used to praise the departed? Shall I tear off my skin, Dude, and never feel the sun’s heat again? Or see it ride? Hath not a divorcee eyes, Dude?”
That was Sir Walter IV, the Dude’s combative friend, based on the film’s character, Walter. Other reworked characters are Lord Lebowski, the Lady Maude, and Big Jack of the Treehorn, all part of writer and director John Beane’s hybrid-mishmash.
“You’re going to see influences, if not outright characters from some of the major Shakespearean pieces,” Beane told KLCC. “And some of the words may be co-opted. But only insomuch as it serves the story of Shakespearean Lebowski.”
The play enjoyed a sold-out debut run three years ago in Coos Bay. Fans of both the Bard and the Brothers will appreciate the show’s elements, including that lost rug which now — in Beane’s prose, “pinioned well the chamber round.”
Beane said one constant is how the Dude skewers the classic “hero’s journey” that’s the spine of most epic tales.
“He’s sort of is the anti-hero in terms of that classic arc, in that the Dude abideth. He does not in fact change too much over the course of all of these things that happen,” laughed Beane. “And that’s kind of why we’re into him. Because he’s not a horrible person at all, but he’s a little funny about some stuff, y’know?”
Beane and his troupe hope that North Bend audiences will find the funny in this bowling-themed comedy of errors.
“William Shakespeare’s Lebowski: Prince of Ninepins” runs Aug. 11-20. Details are on the Liberty Theater’s website.
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