Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2013 Season in Review – The Elizabethan Theatre
Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2013 Season in Review
By Jonathan Lake
The Elizabethan Theatre
Bill Rauch directed this play as the dark fantastic comedy that this play was always meant to be. The massive cast of actors had the talent to play the high and low brow comedy with equal gusto. Played on the single unit set used by all three shows in this years Elizabethan Theatre, this show was visually stunning, bringing out the rich fantasy and the many multiple plots and sub-plots, and sub-sub-plots. The story is so crazy in its character relationships that a diagram was printed in the program. The play was cut to make it more palatable and understandable, but many aspects cannot be cut, making this one of the ” Shakespeare problem plays”. But under Rauch’s direction the stage action is always clear, as is the visual and text. This does not always happen when seeing this play…rather, hardly ever happens. Exceptional performances by actors Jeff King, and Al Espinoza.
The Heart of Robin Hood
Director Joel Sass gave us swashbuckling and silly, beautiful Robin Hood with his inspired company of players. The script was not exceptional, actually it was fairly predictable but that did not make it any less worthy. And why shouldn’t a Robin Hood story feel familiar? That is why we love those stories. This version was extremely entertaining and inventive with tons of energy!
The protagonist was maid Marion, this time, played to the hilt by Kate Hurster. Robin himself was played by John Tufts as an athletic stud with a swagger just like Errol Flynn. He had incredible chemistry with Hurster, which is essential when playing these roles. It is worth noting that perfect comic timing works wonders with familiar scripts and all the actors in this production had this in abundance, but director Joel Sass took it a further with slow burn double takes, and drawing out the humor and joy so we can all be in on the joke. A favorite among this last years patrons.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
A beautiful production by director Christopher Liam Moore. The concept of this version was a convent school with the lovers as students, the mechanicals as the school staff and the king and queen as a priest and nun in love who are leaving their religious callings to get married to each other. Maybe the latter was a layer too much, but this is actually something that happens to priests and nuns, so why not present it in this fashion?
Slightly flawed by well meaning small children as fairies and some complex staging that slowed the play down, this was still a very entertaining show. The lovers were incredibly funny, the mechanicals a riot that just kept on giving the audience side splitting laughs, and the visual style of the play was quite beautiful. Ted Deasy as Oberon and Gina Daniels as Puck were luminous in their performances. Not as well attended as it should have been due to some unkind reviews, it needs to be said that even if a play has small sections that don’t work perfectly, it is no reason to skip it entirely. People missed some truly exceptional work by wonderful theatre artists.