theaters put singular spins on Shakespeare
By Art Thomas
Published Oct. 11, 2006
debates the future of a praying Claudius; In foreground, Mark
Cipra as Claudius and in background, Sarah Morton as Hamlet.
It’s amazing, but right now, you can see three productions
of plays by William Shakespeare on area stages. Each is an adaptation
in one way or another.
If one questioned
the relevance of Shakespeare, he only need look across the West
side to find that the three productions are each attracting a diverse
Downtown, the Great
Lakes Theater Festival is presenting “Love’s Labours Lost.”
I have to say first, that I am not a fan of Shakespeare’s comedies.
This production is set in the surreal world of Rene Magritte. This
is the 20th century Belgian painter who had a hat floating in space
with a suit below but no head of the owner.
are largely contemporary, and there is little tampering with the
script as far as I can tell. The story has a king and three of his
nobles making a pact to stay away from women for three years to
pursue a more pure, contemplative life. However, in a short time,
a princess from France arrives with three handmaidens. Love letters
are written, read by the wrong person, and finally love triumphs,
as we knew it would.
The Great Lakes
production is straightforward with broad comedy coaxed from the
professional cast by director Drew Barr. An audience favorite is
Jeffrey Hawkins as Costard, the freed servant who is charged with
delivering the letters. A master of both physical and verbal humor,
Hawkins wrung laughs from audience members of all ages at the performance
Andrew May has a blast in a Salvador Dali costume, twirling a ridiculous
mustache as the eccentric Spaniard Don Adriano De Armado.
When a pedantic
schoolmaster and his servant endlessly discussed a deer hunt, the
resulting humor left most of the audience and me in a stony silence.
To be fair,
the majority of the audience enjoyed “Love’s Labours Lost” more
than I did. I did find the production to be attractive and well
acted, and that is a lot, given the complexities of Shakespeare.
Lost” runs through Oct. 20 in the Ohio Theater at Playhouse
At the Cleveland
Public Theater on Cleveland’s West side, an all-male production
of “Measure for Measure” is taking place through Saturday. One of
the problem plays, “Measure for Measure” is not characterized as
a history, comedy or tragedy. A reduced seven-member cast takes
on all roles, and I’ll bet that the result is, at the least, intriguing.
Center has the oddest concept of all. This is a production of
“Hamlet” that was inspired by a silent movie! In it, a woman plays
Hamlet. Supposedly the woman is impersonating the male character
and the director gives evidence from the text to support the idea.
directed by David Hansen, has some suggestion of the silent film
era, such as projection screens with title cards. I was intrigued
with starting the play with the gravedigger scene. After that, the
play skips the ghost of Hamlet’s father scenes, and gets to the
heart of the conflict. Despite the extensive cutting, this “Hamlet”
seems and is long.
is effective in the title role, but one quickly forgets that this
is a woman, and accepts the production and the plot for what it
is. The lengthy “players” scenes are there and long as ever, with
the less experienced performers in the player roles. George Roth
is a goofy next-door neighbor as Polonius and gives perhaps the
best performance of the cast.
through Oct. 22 in the Studio Theater of the Beck Center.