Reviews

The Limbs of This Great Sport

STRATFORD, ON— The fate of Shakespeare and Fletcher’s late history Henry VIII has been tumultuous, to say the least.  Cannon fire from the first production burned down the original Globe Theatre in 1613.  Defying augury, the new Globe Theatre mounted a respectable but ultimately forgettable revival in 2010.  Popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, […]

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Reviews

The Best Part of Breakin’ Up Is When You’re Making Up

STRATFORD, ON—Noël Coward said that the critical response to his Private Lives “connoted in the public mind ‘cocktails,’ ‘evening dress,’ ‘repartee’ and irreverent allusions to copulation,” and director Carey Perloff seems to have similar ingredients in mind with her current staging of the play at the Stratford Festival. When Elyot Chase (Geraint Wyn Davies) first […]

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Reviews

I Spy Entertainment in Her

STRATFORD, ON—The Merry Wives of Windsor is an exercise in controlled chaos. Jam-packed with a cast of parsons, physicians, gentleman, and mistresses (rather than ladies), the stage explodes with personalities of all types. At the center of this chaos are the mischievous Mistresses Alice Ford (Sophia Walker) and Anne Page (Brigit Wilson), who have decided […]

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Reviews

Begging Murder Victims for Quotes

STRATFORD, ON—In the press room of Chicago’s Criminal Courts Building, the tables are littered with cigarette butts, half-filled glasses of liquor, and empty Chinese takeout containers.  Reporters smoke, play cards, and occasionally phone their editors, either to report a story or to make one up.  By morning, Earl Williams (Johnathan Sousa) will be hanged for […]

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Reviews

Is Not This Man Jealous?

STRATFORD, ON—The play bears Othello’s (Michael Blake) name, but the tragedy really belongs to Iago (Gordon S. Miller), who has seven soliloquies to Othello’s two. This nihilistic, black hole of a character falls on the far end of Shakespeare’s conception of evil, a natural endpoint after Aaron the Moor and Richard III. No production can […]

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Reviews

Frame Your Mind to Mirth and Merriment

STRATFORD, ON—I’ve never seen a Taming of the Shrew that is quite so, well, shrewish.  Deborah Hay, playing Katherina, rages around the stage, her hair mushrooming in all sorts of directions, her shrieking voice piercing clear through the Festival Theatre.  It is a shocking, audacious performance, as this comedy has troubled critics, audiences, and actors for some […]

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Reviews

All the Children Are Insane

STRATFORD, ON—There is a clean, bare, and muted look to Daniel Brooks’ modernized staging of Oedipus Rex.  The cast dresses in simple, businesslike attire.  Oedipus (Gord Rand) himself often sits at a simple metal desk.  The stage is flanked by unoccupied watchtowers and floodlights.  The chorus, rather than speaking their lines in unison, take turns at […]

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Reviews

Death Is Not the End

STRATFORD, ON—Casting is key in the Stratford Festival’s Pericles this season.  The play, after all, is concerned with cycles, with births and deaths and rebirths, with inverted repetitions.  Thus, E.B. Smith plays Thaliard and Leonine, the first a failed assassin of Pericles (Evan Buliung), the second of his daughter Marina (Deborah Hay).  Wayne Best, in turn, appears as the […]

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Reviews

And It Felt Like a Kiss

STRATFORD, ON—Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel is a Frankenstein’s monster of a musical, part American Tragedy, part Dog Day Afternoon, and part Christmas Carol.  For the first two-thirds, it is a fairly conventional story about Billy Bigelow (Jonathan Winsby), a carousel barker who seduces the “queer” millworker Julie Jordan (Alexis Gordon).  Their marriage quickly devolves into restlessness and […]

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