Like most people, whenever I hear the music of the 80s band The Go-Go’s, I ask myself why nobody has used those songs as the score for an updated version of Sir Philip Sidney’s 16th-century Middle English book, The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia.
Head over Heals, which does exactly that, has opened on Broadway.
Although he’s largely forgotten now, Sidney played a huge role in the public life of the Elizabeth Age. He was elected to Parliament at the age of 18, and later became the son-in-law of Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster. A contemporary of Shakespeare, who “borrowed” part of Arcadia and used it as a subplot in King Lear,* Sidney was a writer, a diplomat, a courtier, and a soldier. His life was as varied and exciting as that of the great 19th-century adventurer, Sir Richard Burton.
Head over Heals celebrates some of the recurring dramatic/comedic devices of Elizabethan theatre. The show includes big helpings of cross-dressing and gender fluidity, so common on 16th-century stages and so timely five centuries later. Everything old is new again.
And of course, plots that feature mistaken identities never go out of style.
Damn, They Were Good!
Here’s the original 1984 Go-Go’s video for “Head over Heals”:
The 80s might have been the Golden Age of alternative/indie/powerpop/whatever music. For haircuts, not so much. I think that hairstyles almost always go out of fashion after 10 or 15 years, and look silly and embarrassing until a few decades later, at which point, they’re appreciated as classic.
Three and a half minutes of The Go-Go’s is simply not enough. Here’s the video for my favourite Go-Go’s song:
*Shakespeare did that sort of thing much too frequently.
“It’s not plagiarism, it’s an homage”, Shakespeare never said, but he should have.