|Ceremony designer, Danny Boyle, and friends in London|
The British producer/director, Danny Boyle, cooked up a quirky, high-volume, colorful, and fast-paced Olympic Opening Ceremony in London on Friday. It bore the imprint of a man with many interests forcing a national identity through a 120 minute window of audience experience. Some things simply had to go. And so we were left with a flock of sheep and some ragged cottage types to mark the time from English origins to the eve of the Industrial Revolution. OTR didn't mind the satanic mills as William Blake is one of his favorite anarchists, not to mention writers and illustrators. Nor did he object to the hundreds of dirty miners as the Welsh blood from Grandmother Jones gave him his Celtic heritage. Frankly, there were few objections on the part of this writer as Boyle's creation washed across the stadium. All politics aside, it was great fun, much like enjoying tapas or the sushi bar - so many choices.
If OTR could raise one issue with the evening it would be this: the production virtually ignored the rich literary and scientific history that is Great Britain from 1700 to 1900. For OTR it would have been pleasing to see some reference to Gilbert and Sullivan and their wonderful, humorous self-examination of Britain at the high point of empire. Though their stage was much smaller compared to Boyle's, they captured so well the eccentricities that infused Friday's celebration. Here is a sample of what we missed:
Gilbert and Sullivan - still going strong around the world after a century and a half.