Feb 24

Melanie Garber’s Ephemeral Direction Of Dreams and Mysteries

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A Dream Play

Presented by Heart & Dagger Productions

By August Strindberg, Translated by Harry G. Carlson
Directed by Melanie Garber

February 22, 2013 to March 2, 2013
The Factory Theatre
791 Tremont Street, Boston

Directing Profile by Becca Kidwell

photo credit:  Drew Linehan

photo credit: Drew Linehan

Melanie Garber has a dancer’s sensibility of direction with Heart & Dagger Productions’ A Dream Play, but this is not a surprise.  She has shown this intricate direction in Actor’s Shakespeare Project’s Medea, Fresh Ink Theatre Company’s Priscilla Dreams The Answer, and Heart & Dagger’s Crave.  Not only does Ms. Garber make words come alive, but she also brings life to words. From the initial moments of each of the productions, she chooses specific, distinct movements that create the environment of the play. Continue reading

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Dec 31

Embracing the Flaws: TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA

Stratton McCrady Photography; the cast getting funky with Shakespeare.

Stratton McCrady Photography; the cast getting funky with Shakespeare.

presented by Actors Shakespeare Project

Davis Square Theatre
255 Elm Street,
Somerville, MA
December 12th, 2012 – January 6th, 2012
Actors Shakespeare Project Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Somerville) Because Shakespeare has become the standard by which Western theatre is judged, we often forget that the man first had to feel his way in the dark, just like every other art school wannabe.  Two Gentlemen of Verona, believed by some to be the Bard’s first play, shows frustrating snatches of his future brilliance.  All his trademark comedic pieces are there (cross-dressing women, inconstant lovers and the amazing power of the wilderness to right all wrongs), but this script reads like the man was working on deadline.  Themes are picked up and discarded, wordplay only sporadically catches fire and a plot point in the final act makes you want to bang Shakespeare’s head against the floorboards and scream, “Rewrite!” Continue reading

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Oct 09

A Stylish, Creepy “Macbeth”

Photo Credit Stratton McCrady Photography

by William Shakepeare
directed by Paula Plum

Actors’ Shakespeare Project
Chevalier Theatre
Medford, MA
Oct 03, 2012 – Nov 04, 2012
Actor’s Shakespeare Project Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Medford) The Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s Macbeth wraps itself in a pleasing 1920’s aesthetic. Opening in the midst of a funeral procession, Latin is chanted for a tiny coffin as the witches follow in nun habits. Lady Macbeth (Mara Sidmore) turns to hush them as the funeral ends and she sits down to listen to the radio. The effect of the historical displacement is gorgeous and creepily off-putting. Continue reading

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May 01

Life Lessons in a Lull: TROILUS AND CRESSIDA

photo credit: Stratton McCrady

Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, The Modern Theatre, 4/25/12-5/20/12, http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/events/troilus-and-cressida-0.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) There are two major ways to connect audiences to Shakespeare, despite the tricky language: you can glitz up the production so theatergoers don’t realize their brains are doing heavy-lifting (a la Baz Luhrmann’s seizure-inducing Romeo and Juliet) or make sure you serve up quality and let the script speak for itself.  Tina Packer consistently has chosen the second option in her body of work.   Continue reading

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Feb 16

Medea: Special Victims Unit – Corinth

Medea with Chorus, L to R: Sarah Newhouse*, Obehi Janice, Jennie Israel* & McCaela Donovan © 2012 Stratton McCrady Photography

Medea by Euripides, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, 2/8/12-3/4/12,  http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/whats-new/medea.  Mature content.  Not recommended for children under 13.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Cambridge, MA) No one who watches Court TV or Law and Order can deny the pull of a good crime drama.  Even those who pretend to be indifferent or opposed to crime drama cannot help being drawn in (and for those who are still pretending that they don’t care, wasn’t that you who tweeted about the Casey Anthony trial all of those times?).  What may surprise audiences of Medea is that society hasn’t changed much in 4000 years.  Actors’ Shakespeare Project brings to life a Greek drama that examines the dark impulses and desires that haunt not only the “cultured” audiences from Greece’s Golden Age, but also the dark realities of our own society.

Before the play even starts, the audience is surrounded by an air of mystery and foreboding.   Continue reading

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Dec 10

Great Acting While on a Treadmill: The Merry Wives of Windsor

Photo Credit: Stratton McCrady

The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Davis Square Theatre, 12/7/11-1/1/12, http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/events/merry-wives-windsor-0.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Somerville, MA) It’s one thing for a young theater troupe to be ambitious, but it’s something else to watch the troupe succeed in its ambition.

In its early history, the Actors’ Shakespeare Project has decided to skip the low-hanging fruit of the Bard’s body of work and reach for some of his more obscure works.  (Hands up for anyone who knows a single line from Troilus and Cressida, which the troupe performs in the spring.) Continue reading

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Oct 12

Twelfth Night: Foolish Games of Greatness

James Andreassi (Sir Toby), Steven Barkhimer (Feste) & Doug Lockwood (Sir Andrew). Photo by Stratton McCrady

 

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Plaza Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, 9/27/11-10/22/11,  http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/season8/twelfth_night.html.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Boston, MA) With the help of the magical playground designed by Christina Todesco, Actors’ Shakespeare Project creates an entertaining evening of romance and folly.  The production touches the joy and pain of being.  And a fool shall lead them all…

Upon entering the theatre, the audience immediately encounters an abstract tempest upon a spacious performance area.  Something that seems to be a trademark of Christine Todesco’s designs, there is a ramp that ends up being used as a slide.  In addition, the columns on stage provide reflective surfaces for the characters to get lost in their own self-interest as imagined by the director, Melia Bensussen. Continue reading

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May 02

Antony and Cleopatra (ASPBoston): To the mattresses

Antony & Cleopatra by William Shakespeare, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, The Modern Theatre at Suffolk University, 4/27/11-5/21/11.  http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/season7/antony_cleo.html.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

Photo by Stratton McCrady

Actors’ Shakespeare Project continues to bring intelligible Shakespeare to Boston.  One of Shakespeare’s most complicated plots of politics and passion, Antony and Cleopatra can leave Shakespeare neophytes confused and questioning.  This production provides a clear path for understanding and appreciation of the text.

The backdrop, designed by Jeff Adelberg, looks like a collection of mattress coils that make up a wall.  This suggestive detail reflects Antony’s decision-making processes.  Antony is caught up in his love and does not recognize the ever-present threat of his fellow triumvirate colleague, Octavius.  Octavius uses Antony’s distraction to destroy the triumvirate and become emperor of Rome. Continue reading

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Mar 22

Living in Exile: A War Story of Epic Proportions

Robert Walsh and Tamara Hickey; photo by Stratton McCrady c 2011

Living in Exile by Jon Lipsky, 3/17/11-3/27/11.  http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

How do you fit the story of a ten year war into a night of entertainment?  First, take a familiar piece of material; second, get two talented actors; third, have Actor’s Shakespeare Project produce it.  Many students have struggled with The Illiad in school.  Jon Lipsky reinvents Homer’s story of the epic battle of Troy. Continue reading

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Feb 13

CYMBELINE: such stuff as dreams are made on

Cymbeline by William Shakespeare, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, 2/9/11-2/20/11, part of THE WINTER FESTIVAL (also playing:  The Hotel Nepenthe by John Kuntz, 2/23/11-3/6/11; and Living in Exile by Jon Lipsky, 3/9/11-3/20/11)  http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/season7/winter_festival.html

Brooke Hardman as Imogen and De'Lon Grant as Posthumous; photo by Stratton McCrady, c 2011

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

This is why I love theatre.  No sets. No real props (except musical instruments).  Plain white clothing.  All that is left is the artists and the words.  Cymbeline, one of Shakespeare’s final plays, is rarely staged because of its meandering plots and complicated relationships (for a detailed plot summary, go to SparkNotes—really, it’s not cheating); Actors’ Shakespeare Project not only takes on the challenge, but performs the play possibly better than even Shakespeare could have envisioned it.

This phenomenally talented cast of seven takes the multiple plot twists and numerous characters and creates a cohesive and pleasurable fable for adults.   Continue reading

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