Let's Talk Off Broadway

Yvonne Korshak reviews Off-Broadway, Broadway, Film and Art

Tag: Shakespeare (Page 1 of 2)

Review | Cry, Trojans (Troilus & Cressida) | Text by William Shakespeare | Directed by Elizabeth LeCompte | Performing Garage | Wooster Group

… not nice guys …

Diving into disjunction, deconstructing anything and everything, and squeezing ambiguities out of certainties, The Wooster Group has always stayed theatrically steps ahead.  In staging this play they seem to have taken on their ultimate challenge because Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida is already a work of deconstruction … a few centuries avant la lettre.  So what’s left for The Wooster Group to do?  Exuberantly, they add their own disjunctions and ambiguities to Troilus and Cressida for a stimulating take on Shakespeare’s play based on Homer’s epic about that war between the Greeks and Trojans.

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Review | Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare | Directed by Tea Alagić | Classic Stage Company

… Where art Romeo and Juliet? …

What I liked best about this Classic Stage production of Romeo and Juliet was the depiction of the men around the Montague Romeo and those around the Capulets as young toughs with a contemporary style.  Nothing new about that, of course, think of West Side Story, and Shakespeare in contemporary dress is commonplace.  But Harry Ford (substituting the night I attended for T. R. Knight), with his thick body packed into leather and to-the-head corn rows makes a charismatic Mercutio, volatile, dirty-mouthed, amused and amusing, and the rest of the guys fit in to the idea, though they’re not consistently as convincing. 

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Review | Henry IV Part 1 by William Shakespeare | Directed by Davis McCallum | Pearl Theatre Company

If you’ve never seen Henry IV Part 1, the Pearl’s production will bring you close to it and if you’ve seen it before you’ll love it all over again.

This last assumes you’ve loved it in the past which is probable because it’s one of Shakespeare’s best loved plays, for good reasons.  Among them, it’s hilarious.  Falstaff is so vivid and original a character, so complex and real, that it’s hard to believe he’s a creative invention;  and, in the character of Prince Hal, the play deals with issues of fundamental fascination and importance for all of us, growth to maturity.

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Dave Shaw as a Caliban leaps, over-excited by the new brew -- wine -- that David Gautchy as Stephano (L) and Brendan Boland as Trinculo (R) have introduced him to.  Photo:  Robert Ruben 

The Tempest by William Shakespeare | Directed by Sarah Hankins | Music by Melanie Closs | Sylvester Manor Windmill | Green Theatre Collective, Shelter Island, Long Island

… Prospero on Shelter Island …

At the beginning, Ariel heads the storm tossed boat like a great, gleaming figurehead, thrown now this way now that by the waves and wind but at the same steady, distant, a spirit beyond the terror of those aboard who grip the ropes that are the boat in this wondrously outdoors presentation of Shakespeare’s Tempest by the Green Theatre Collective.  It’s brilliant staging by Sarah Hankins, acrobatic, all-out acting, and a hint of things to come in this outstanding production.

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Review | King Lear by William Shakespeare | Directed by James Macdonald | Public Theater

… not in our stars …

The cast is so star studded* that it’s surprising that this production comes out no more than a serviceable Lear.   But that’s still a lot:  since it’s such a great play, and all the words (except for the Fool) come across with full clarity it’s a rewarding evening.  You understand all the actions, motivations, and entanglements of the plot and come out feeling you have an enhanced understanding of the play.  That’s worthwhile.  The language seems immediate, not distant.  Good.  But the poetic power is damped, and the production seems disjointed. 

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Review | Shakespeare’s As You Like It at Sylvester Manor Windmill | Performances July 16 and 17 | Directed by Sarah Hankins | Green Theatre Collective, Shelter Island, Long Island

… the Forest of Arden …

What could be better than circling the fruitful fields of Sylvester Manor’s Community Supported Agriculture farm to arrive at the windmill, sitting on the verdant grass, and in this idyllic, mid-summer setting watching a beautiful production of Shakespeare’s great pastoral comedy performed by talented and idealistic actors of the Green Theatre Collective?

Nothing could be better.

We wait for the play to begin, some people nibbling the organic crudités and sipping wine.  A thin cord rests on the top of the bouncy grass, marking the “edge of the stage.”  Are those the actors seated — like ourselves — on picnic blankets on either side of the windmill?

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Review | Double Falsehood by William Shakespeare* and John Fletcher* | Adapted by Lewis Theobald | Directed by Brian Kulick | Classic Stage Company

A rumored connection to Shakespeare’s the thing here — not the play.

Is Double Falsehood  based on a play Shakespeare wrote* in collaboration with John Fletcher,* that has come down to us through an 18th-century adaptation by Lewis Theobald?  Classic Stage would like us to entertain that possibility.  It’s worthy to examine Shakespearean controversies but — theater is theater and this is not a good play.  And there’s nothing of Shakespeare to experience in it.

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Review | The Age of Iron from William Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida and Thomas Heywood’s Iron Age | Adapted and Directed by Brian Kulick | Classic Stage Company

(Also pertinent … Cry, Trojans (Shakespeare’s Troilus & Cressida), by The Wooster Group)

Just about the entire legend of the Trojan War is told — or at least “covered” — in The Age of Iron, from Paris’ abduction of Helen to the sack of Troy by the Greeks using their ruse of the “Trojan Horse,” all the way to the suicide of Ajax.  Brian Kulick achieved this mainly by appending to Shakespeare’s play, which is focused on a short period toward the end of the war, the “beginning” and the “end” from another Elizabethan play, Heywood’s Iron Age.   The Age of Iron is beautifully produced and you both hear the poetry of Shakespeare’s language and understand every word.

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Review | Shakespeare’s Hamlet | Starring Jude Law | Directed by Michael Grandage | Broadhurst Theater

… a two man show …

Sometimes theater goers will say of classic plays, “I saw The Seagull — or A Doll’s House — or Hamlet — recently, I’m just not ready to see another one”. Fair enough, but Jude Law puts such a distinctive mark on Hamlet that, believe me, you haven’t seen this, ever.

His Hamlet is a younger man than most seem to be (regardless of the actor’s age).  His performance is athletic, unquestionably charismatic (the audience applauds after every great scene like after an aria in an opera), and openly vulnerable.  He listens to others intensely, and his words, thoughts and actions come as genuine responses flowing from within — the script falls away and Shakespeare’s character emerges as a real, conflicted, engaged man.  He’s all over the stage.  He gives himself completely, with a great actor’s generosity, to the performance.

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Review | Shakespeare’s Othello | With Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Ortiz and Jessica Chastain | Directed by Peter Sellars | Public Theater and Labyrinth Theater Company

… honest Iago …

This is a wonderfully open Othello, easy to enter, listen to, live with awhile with no sacrifice of Shakespeare’s language and meaning.  It’s done in generalized modern dress, with TV monitors used for atmospheric slide projections placed center stage like gleaming mosaics.  The actors, sometimes using cell phones, link naturalistic, current English and Shakespeare’s language so that one hears Shakespeare’s language as ones own.

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