Apr 06

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

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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

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Mar 10

A Very Bardy Soap Opera: BREAKING THE SHAKESPEARE CODE

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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

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Mar 07

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

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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

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Feb 20

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

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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

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Feb 19

An Improbable Fiction Played Upon The Stage: “12 Nights”

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Photo borrowed from Oberon website. No photo credit available on site. Notice from sources will prompt immediate update to give credit where it is due.

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

February 18 – 21, 2014
The Oberon
2 Arrow Street, Cambridge MA
The Hypocrites on Facebook

Welcome back dear readers! I am reporting to you from day two of Dani’s Grand Bardopalooza Adventure: 2K14.  Over three days, I will attend and review three different American Shakespeare remixes.  Tonight’s Oreo filling show: 12 Nights presented by The Hypocrites at Club Oberon.  Stop back later this week to catch the stunning conclusion of this Epic Shakes-Series.

(Cambridge) Watch out, Boston; The Hypocrites are back in town.

After their stunning production of The Pirates of Penzance (first performed at Oberon in June 2012, then again on the A.R.T. main stage this past May), I had high expectations for 12 Nights.  The Hypocrites excel at high-octane performance which engages and illuminates for audiences who might otherwise have given this style of theatre a miss.  As such, I thought that Shakespeare was a perfect fit for this Chicago-based company.  What better way to interest people in the Bard than to introduce them at a Hypocritical party. Continue reading

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Feb 18

Extempore from their Mother Wit: Improvised Shakespeare Company

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Improvised-Shakespeare-Logo

ImprovBoston

Presented by Improv Boston
By Improvised Shakespeare Company

February 17, 2014
ImprovBoston
Cambridge, MA
Improvised Shakespeare Co on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

Hello dear readers; I am reporting to you from the front lines of Dani’s Grand Bardopalooza Adventure: 2K14.  Over the next three days, I will be attending three different American Shakespeare remixes and reviewing them right here just for you.  First up: Chicago’s Improvised Shakespeare Company.  Stop back later this week to catch the rest of this Epic Shakes-Series.

(Cambridge) I have wanted to see the Improvised Shakespeare Company in performance for years.  Years.  They’ve fallen on and off my radar several times since I first discovered their existence and, despite my living in veritable theatre Meccas for the entirety of my earthly existence, I’ve not yet had a chance to catch their show. Continue reading

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Nov 25

Nothing is but What Is Not: “Macbeth”

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Presented by F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Joey DeMita
Original Music by Steven Bergman

November 22 – 30th, 2013
Arsenal Center for the Arts
F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Watertown) Some projects require a special touch.  There are, for instance, people who implicitly understand Musicals.  The musical form requires things that other theatre does not: an eye for choreography, an ear for music, an interest in balancing ham and legitimate acting…

Directing Shakespeare is a very specific task that requires a very specific skillset: an ear for rhetoric, an understanding of verse, a knowledge of history, an eye for embedded stage directions… F.U.D.G.E.’s Joey DeMita has none of these skills. Continue reading

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Oct 21

Rage Against the Love Machine: ROMEO AND JULIET

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http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/sites/default/files/gallery/Stratton_McCrady_201310010235.jpg?download=1

Stratton McCrady Photography 2013

Presented by Actors’ Shakespeare Project
By William Shakespeare
Co-directed by Bobbie Steinbach and Allyn Burrows

October 2nd – November 3rd, 2013
The Strand Theatre
Dorchester (Boston), MA
Actor’s Shakespeare Project on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston) We are so insane for love that we co-opt works of art that vilify love and turn them into romantic propaganda.  It happens with every generation.  I grew up with The Police song “Every Breath You Take” as the best love song of 1983, even though it was clearly about a stalker

Romeo and Juliet has become a stand-in for romance, so much so that Bugs Bunny and Pepe LePew could do the balcony scene and 4-year-olds would get the joke.  But while any college freshman with a dye job can enjoy the irony that this iconically romantic story could easily be considered a black comedy, few theatre companies can stage “R + J” productions that can cut through the “Will U Be Mine” ethos we smear on the play. Continue reading

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Aug 26

Brown Box Theatre’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” Drips with Humor, Actual Water

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Presented by Brown Box Theatre Project
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Kyler Taustin

Aug. 23 – Sept. 1, 2013
Children Wharf’s Park, outside the Boston Children’s Museum
Boston, MA
Brown Box Theatre Project on Facebook

Can’t attend these performances in Boston? You’re in luck! Following their Boston performances, the Brown Box cast and crew will pack up their set and continue their tour on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware.

Review by Gillian Daniels

The last production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream I saw before Brown Box Theatre’s was The Donkey Show at the Oberon.  Where the Oberon’s version was a show infused with drugs, sex, the excesses of 1970’s disco culture, and go-go dancer boys with body glitter, Brown Box Theatre fills its show with the excesses of Elizabethan fairies and water basins liberally placed around its stage.  The long-running Donkey Show may be the toast of Cambridge, but Brown Box Theatre has captured a more vibrant energy in its traditional telling. Continue reading

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Jul 08

Free Shakespeare in the Park: “Two Gentlemen of Verona”

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http://www.commshakes.org/system/storage/222/65/a/640/2_gents_website.jpg

Music Director, Colin Thurmond
Set Designer, Beowulf Boritt
Sound Designer, J. Hagenbuckle
Lighting Designer, Eric Southern
Costume Designer, Nancy Leary

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company Main Page, Facebook Page
Boston Common venue
Comm Shakes FAQ page

“Two Gents” tells the tale of two friends who leave their hometown of Verona to find their happy fortunes in Milan. Instead, they find temptation, trickery, and trouble as they vie for favor with the high-society Duke… and his debutante daughter. All are drawn into a web of disguise and secrecy where the last thing anyone wants is for the truth to surface — least of all the dog.

Inspired by Rat Pack-era Vegas — the glamor, the hedonism, and the morning after agonies — the production brings new meaning to the line “what happens in Milan, stays in Milan…”

SPECIAL PERFORMANCES AND EVENTS:
JULY 18TH: AUDIO-DESCRIBED PERFORMANCE
JULY 21ST: ASL-INTERPRETED PERFORMANCE
JULY 26TH: “FAMILY DAY” AND “FREE FUN FRIDAY”
JULY 27TH @ 2PM: ASL-INTERPRETED PERFORMANCE

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