Jul 23

Hub Theatre’s Shakespeare Crowd-Pleaser: “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)”

Bookmark and Share

Picture

Presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston
by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield
Directed by Lauren Elias

July 18 – August 2, 2014
Club Café
209 Columbus Ave
Boston, MA

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) The working hypothesis for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) appears to be this: when at his most serious, the Bard is the most unintentionally hilarious. It’s darkly comic, in a way, that a pair of lovers would die passionately together despite knowing each other for a few days. And there’s something ridiculous about a prince putting off the assassination of the uncle who stole his crown because he doesn’t believe the ghost of his father. In Hub Theatre Company’s take on the parody, Patrick Curran, Adam Lauver (alternating with Will Moore), and Brooks Reeves seek to both compress and skewer Shakespeare’s body of work. Continue reading

Bookmark and Share
Jul 15

Go Big or Go Home: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Bookmark and Share

The Cast. Photo found on It’s A Fiasco Facebook page.

It’s a Fiasco Theatre Company
by William Shakespeare
Sponsored by the City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Arts Council – presented under the auspices of the Actors’ Equity Association Member’s Project Code.

June 19 – 29, 2014
Longfellow Park, 175 Mt. Auburn Street
Cambridge, MA
It’s A Fiasco on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

Think for a moment of the conditions under which Shakespeare was performed in the Elizabethan era and you realize this play was never meant to be locked away in an ivory tower. At the time the words of these plays were fresh, so was the concept of public sanitation. Most of the population was illiterate, and probably a good amount of them shared their skin with some form of vermin. Even in the hallowed halls of royal theater, the patrons probably stank to high heaven and air conditioning was a couple of centuries from being invented. So if at first glance it seems incongruous to speak some of the English language’s best poetry next to a Cambridge water park, it might be best to remember this probably would have been considered a pretty gentile staging grounds back in the day. Continue reading

Bookmark and Share
Jun 02

A Robust Spectacle: THE TEMPEST

Bookmark and Share
Photo: The Smith Center/Geri Kodey

Photo: The Smith Center/Geri Kodey

Presented by the American Repertory Theatre
By William Shakespeare
Adapted and Directed by Aaron Posner and Teller
Magic by Teller
Songs by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan
Choreography by Matt Kent, Pilobolus
Magic Design by Johnny Thompson
Magic Engineering and Construction by Thom Rubino
Music Direction and Arrangements by Shaina Taub

May 11th – June 15th
Cambridge, MA

Reviews by Craig Idlebrook and Clara Idlebrook

(Editorial note – Reviewer Craig Idlebrook attended The Tempest with his family. The American Repertory Theatre asked that he include his 8-year-old daughter’s take on the show. Clara Idlebrook’s review appears below Craig’s.)

Craig’s Take:

There is something so delicious about watching artists at work who have mastered their craft enough to disregard public opinion and create something exquisitely weird. American Repertory Theatre’s staging of the Tempest feels like a transcendent late-night jam session between William Shakespeare, veteran magician Teller, and musical sabotage specialists Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan. You could picture this production being a traveling troupe’s one-shot staging done during a layover, and someone happened to hit the record button on an iPhone. Continue reading

Bookmark and Share
Jun 02

Over-the-Top Big Top: Cirque du Soleil’s “Amaluna”

Bookmark and Share

Presented by Cirque du Soleil
Created by Guy Laliberté, Gilles Ste-Croix, Fernand Rainville
Directed by Diane Paulus
Composed and music directed by Bob & Bill (Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard)
Choreographed by Karole Armitage
Acrobatic choreographers Debra Brown & Caitlan Maggs
“Sanddornbalance” Act by Rigolo Swiss Nouveau Cirque

May 30 – July 6, 2014
Boston Marine Industrial Park on the Waterfront
Boston, MA
Amaluna on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

Lightly adapting the The Tempest and playing fast and loose with source materials of multiples mythologies, Amaluna patches together dreamy images and circus acts into one, outlandish show. It’s energetic and fittingly over-the-top. Cirque du Soleil has an image to maintain as a thoroughly extravagant circus and they continue this grand tradition by marrying the flashiness of Las Vegas to a syrupy storyline. Continue reading

Bookmark and Share
Apr 29

Richly Developed Heroines: BECOMING CUBA

Bookmark and Share

Presented by Huntington Theatre Co
Written by Huntington Playwright-in-Residence Melinda Lopez
Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara

March 28 – May 3, 2014
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington Co on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) Becoming Cuba at the Huntington Theatre is about blood origins. It is about the effect blood-ties have on our decisions, and the indirect way our origins affect the world around us. Specifically, it is about sisters Adele (Christina Pumariega) and Martina (Rebecca Soler) who run a pharmacie in Spanish-occupied Cuba. Adele attempts to remain neutral as war threatens the country she loves: her family fights in the rebellion; her husband died fighting for Spain. As Adele cares for the people of Havana, she comes to understand that loyalty is a complex beast. Love and loyalty can be divided while still remaining whole. Continue reading

Bookmark and Share
Apr 28

Make ‘em Laugh: “The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)”

Bookmark and Share

­­­Michael Faulkner and Dominic Conti of the Reduced Shakespeare Company; Photos by Meghan MooreMichael Faulkner and Dominic Conti of the Reduced Shakespeare Company; Photos by Meghan Moore

Presented by The Reduced Shakespeare Company
Written and Directed by Reed Martin and Astin Tichenor

April 24th – May 18th, 2014
Merrimack Repertory Theatre
50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell MA
The Reduced Shakespeare Company on Facebook
Merrimack Repertory Theatre on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Lowell) The Reduced Shakespeare Company have long been proprietors of abridged histories and this touring production of The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) will deliver everything that you expect from the boys at the RSC: a three-man team dishing out biting satire, poignant historical and social commentary, and a dude in a really bad wig. Continue reading

Bookmark and Share
Apr 06

Don’t Hate the Player: “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”

Bookmark and Share

The pretty, pretty cast.

Presented by Theatre@First
By Tom Stoppard
Directed by Elizabeth Hunter

April 4th – 12th
Davis Square Theatre
Theatre@First on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Somerville) So, weird thing about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, it makes Beckett slightly more palatable and Shakespeare slightly less.

Stoppard’s play riffing on Beckett’s infamous Waiting for Godot is, on the surface, a glance at what’s going on behind the wings during the course of the greatest play ever written in the English language. If we begin to look at life as Stoppard’s head tragedian does (that is a world in which every exit is an entrance somewhere else), we begin to see how this Hamlet fan-fic took shape. Take Gogo and Didi, slap them into some verse poetry, give them tabards and a letter to the English King and wha-bam; there’s Stoppard’s piece. Continue reading

Bookmark and Share
Mar 10

A Very Bardy Soap Opera: BREAKING THE SHAKESPEARE CODE

Bookmark and Share

Photo by Paul Cantillon, LIDEC Photo

Presented by Vagabond Theatre Group
by John Minigan
Directed by James Peter Sotis

March 6th – 15, 2014
The Factory Theatre

791 Tremont Street
Boston, MA
Vagabond Theatre Company on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Boston) I went into this show knowing one thing: given the subject matter and my background, I was either going to hate it or love it.  There would be no in between.

I was mostly right.  I hated some things, and loved others.  Let’s go through these items one line at a time, shall we?

Let’s start with the writing: Minigan is definitely writing for Boston.  Much like it’s hard to imagine Avenue Q played anywhere but New York, I have a hard time imaging that audiences in other parts of the country would connect to this show in the same way as Bostonians.  This is doubly odd given that the show premiered at the Orlando Shakespeare Festival and continued on to the Utah Shakespeare Festival where, presumably, it did well enough that it’s back in Boston now.  The dialogue is expertly put together, and it held me in a way that most contemporary pieces don’t (…and not just because it had a passing relationship with my man Will).  My one fault with the piece was this: I left wondering “why?”  Why did I just see this?  Why did we go on this journey?  What was beneath this tale?  I felt like the story was too profound not to have a readily discernable crux; but I just couldn’t understand what that crux was. Continue reading

Bookmark and Share
Mar 07

Life is But a Dream: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Bookmark and Share

Presented by Bristol Old Vic
in association with Handspring Puppet Company
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Tom Morris

March 6th – 15, 2014
ArtsEmerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
Boston, MA
Handspring Puppet Company on Facebook
Bristol Old Vic on Facebook
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Boston) As much as I love my Willy (and, trust me, there’s no girl in the world who loves Willy more than I do), Midsummer has always been a problematic play for me.

It’s not the language; this play is simply beautiful linguistically with enough famous speeches to keep a casual listener engaged but not so much that it begins to feel like Hamlet (bopping from one pop culture soliloquy to another with nary a breath in between). This play has more rhyming couplets than you can shake a stick at; and natural imagery that can lull even a colicky infant into the show’s titular pleasant reverie. Continue reading

Bookmark and Share
Feb 20

I’m of Two Minds (Both Alike in Dignity): “Romeo Juliet”

Bookmark and Share

Photo borrowed from Club Oberon “Romeo Juliet” event site.

Presented by The Hypocrites
Directed and Adapted by Sean Graney
Adapted from the play by William Shakespeare

February 19 – 22, 2014
The Oberon
2 Arrow Street, Cambridge MA
The Hypocrites on Facebook

Whew!  Thanks for sticking with me, readers! Welcome to the Epic Conclusion of Dani’s Grand Bardopalooza Adventure: 2K14.  Over three days, I have attended and reviewed three different American Shakespeare remixes.  Tonight’s grand finale: Romeo Juliet presented by The Hypocrites at Club Oberon.

(Cambridge) Let’s start here: this is probably best titled a “remix” of Shakespeare’s play rather than a straight-up performance or adaptation.  Sean Graney took the original text, cut it, cropped it, zoomed in on some things, and re-arranged everything else to befit the story he wanted to tell.  And, as I said in my review of 12 Nights, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that treatment.  As an audience member, you should just be aware that you’re not going to be seeing Shakespeare on this stage; you’re going to be seeing work inspired by a timeless story.  As such, I think familiarity with the source text is a must.  I definitely saw plenty of kids in the audience, but I wasn’t certain that this was the best vehicle for introducing our well-known story to them. The story itself, in this form, felt rushed and improbable; like Graney was trying to slot too many elements into his slim sixty-minute time window.  There were moments that even I barely followed (and that’s saying something). Continue reading

Bookmark and Share