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Genre Deconstruction / Theatre

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  • Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods spends its first act as simply a retelling of the stories of "Jack and the Beanstalk", "Little Red Riding Hood", "Rapunzel", and "Cinderella", all tied together with the story of a baker and his wife who are cursed with infertility unless they can procure certain items from all four. In the end it looks like everyone's gotten what they want and is happy, but suddenly the narrator announces "To be continued!" Act two begins with the idea that the giant was just minding his own business when Jack came up the beanstalk and killed him, and just builds from there into an incredibly brutal Anyone Can Die deconstruction of fairy tales.
  • Various plays of William Shakespeare have been interpreted as genre deconstructions:
    • Hamlet has been read as a massive deconstruction of Elizabethan revenge dramas. Although most of them end in tears for everyone, Hamlet deconstructs the genre by having the characters react to events like the ghost's appearance like a real person would (in a standard revenge play, the appearance of a vengeful ghost was an expected part of the genre, but Hamlet doubts the ghost's reality for half the play, as a real person who saw a ghost probably would).
    • Measure for Measure might do the same for comedies. The whole thing is a source of much debate.
    • Romeo And Juliet has been interpreted as a genre deconstruction of Commedia dell'Arte. The stock characters are nearly all there, and the Star-Crossed Lovers plot, the Zany Scheme... only this time the zany scheme doesn't work, and five young people die.
    • In a like manner, Titus Andronicus can be read as a Deconstruction (or even a Satire) of revenge dramas. The over-the-top blood and gore, and the obvious mental instability of everyone, including the play's purported "heroes," have led some modern audiences to call this play the most "Tarantino-esque" of Shakespeare's works.
  • The Yeomen of the Guard plays much like any of Gilbert and Sullivan's other comic operas, except the Deus ex Machina never shows up, so everybody gets married to the wrong person.
  • M. Butterfly is a deconstruction of the Western fantasy of getting with an Asian chick in general, and Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly in particular.
  • A Streetcar Named Desire did not deconstruct any genre in particular, but it did deconstruct gender roles, physical relationships, and the American system of social classes in a rather harsh way.
  • Older Than Feudalism: Euripides' Trojan Women and Hecuba portrayed The Trojan War as a human tragedy rather than a sweeping epic tale of martial valor in the Homeric tradition. In general, his tragedies are regarded as more "modern" than those of his predecessors because of their morally ambiguous protagonists, pervasive sense of anxiety and despair, religious skepticism and overall portrayal of mythologycal subjects and characters as real people.
  • Urinetown deconstructs a typical Dystopia story. It has downtrodden people fighting to overthrow the oppressive system that heavily taxes and regulates their bathroom usage during a worldwide massive drought. They succeed, but they are so caught up in the "freedom" that they don't control themselves at all and end up squandering all the remaining water.
  • Noises Off is a backstage comedy that deconstructs a typical door-slamming sex farce, and how plays work in general, by exploring everything that can go wrong with Nothing On, a poor farce being performed by a troupe of actors. Personal relationships get in the way between cast members and ever the show's director, and by the third act Nothing On descends into a madhouse.