Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Political Animals: War, Love & Policy in Shakespeare"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Carl A. Rossi


"POLITICAL ANIMALS: WAR, LOVE & POLICY IN SHAKESPEARE"

an entertainment presented by The Actors’ Shakespeare Project
with Jessica Cooper & James Meadors performing songs of Thomas Campion & Thomas Ford
slides and lighting by Jonathan Gwiazda

PROLOGUE: HENRY VI, Part 3 – Act 3, Scene 2
Richard, Duke of Gloucester … John Kuntz

HENRY V – Act 5, Scene 2
King Henry V … Douglas Lockwood
Princess Katherine ... Sarah Newhouse
Alice … Bobbie Steinbach

LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST – Act 2, Scene 1
King of Navarre … Bill Mootos
Princess of France … Sarah Douglas
Boyet … David Evett
Rosaline … Jennie Israel
Berowne … Benjamin Evett

CORIOLANUS – Act 5, Scene 2
Coriolanus … Benjamin Evett
Volumnia … Bobbie Steinbach
Virgilia … Sarah Newhouse
Marcus … Addison Williams
Aufidius … Robert Walsh

HENRY VIII – Act 3, Scene 1
Queen Katherine … Marya Lowry
Cardinal Wolsey … Robert Walsh
Cardinal Campeius … Richard Snee

MEASURE FOR MEASURE – Act 2, Scene 4
Angelo … Ken Cheeseman
Isabella … Paula Langton
Servant … Richard Snee

KING JOHN – Act 3, Scene 1
Constance … Jennie Israel
Salisbury … Douglas Lockwood
Prince Arthur … Addison Williams
King Phillip of France … David Evett
King John … Ken Cheeseman
Blanche … Sarah Doulgas

HENRY VI, Part 3 – Act 1, Scene 4
Richard, Duke of York … Richard Snee
Queen Margaret … Paula Plum
Northumberland … Benjamin Evett
Clifford … Douglas Lockwood

EPILOGUE: THE TEMPEST – Act 2, Scene 1
Gonzalo … John Kuntz

(Note: two members, Jeremiah Kissel and John Douglas Thompson, could not attend due to prior commitments)

If the newly formed Actors’ Shakespeare Project can deliver in full what its audience sampled at its benefit performance, then Boston could have a true Shakespearean company to raise, support and treasure. Composed of a number of well-known local actors, the Project proposes to present stripped-down Shakespeare with the emphasis on the speaker and the speech rather than on directorial concept and spectacle --- spoken like a true Elizabethan! There is nothing more beautiful than bodies moving through an empty space --- Life as a dance --- and how thrilling to watch and listen as these actors, in their street clothes and with a minimum of props, transformed themselves through voice and imagination, alone. Time, of course, is needed to blend the Project into a true ensemble --- some members are established Shakespeareans; others are modern-day actors who must adjust from prose to verse --- and there are currently no juveniles or ingénues per se in its ranks; thus I am not surprised that the Project's planned season consists of RICHARD III, MEASURE FOR MEASURE and JULIUS CAESAR; plays with great opportunities for character actors (two of them also require battle skills, which were not displayed at the benefit). There were glowing moments --- Bobbie Steinbach as a warm and, therefore, human Volumnia; Marya Lowry (the golden trumpet from CSC’s HENRY V) as an embittered Queen Katherine in exile; Robert Walsh, full of purring menace as Cardinal Wolsey; John Kuntz as that bottled spider the Duke of Gloucester (will he be the Project’s Crookback, come October?) --- others were not as well-suited to their assignments but, no doubt, will shine as other portraits in Shakespeare’s vast gallery. Paula Langton’s matronly Isabella, pleading for her chastity, gives rise to the question To Cast or Not to Cast: a young player who fits the character’s age and looks to the letter but lacks the lung power and worldliness to make the verse soar, or a mature player who can approach the Bard with a matured voice and a richer emotional palette? I prefer the latter, regardless of an actor's hoary locks or thickened waistline --- Shakespeare’s verse is all --- as the old saying goes, Juliet can only be played by an actress who has reached her fortieth summer.

There was no director listed in the evening’s entertainment though one is bound to enter this newborn Eden, from within or without --- may he/she remain true to the Project’s first Commandment: that in spite of visions, no matter how inspired, a bare Bard is still the best.

"Political Animals: War, Love & Policy in Shakespeare" (3 May)
THE ACTORS’ SHAKESPEARE PROJECT
The Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle Street, CAMBRIDGE, MA
1 (617) 499-6982

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide

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