Reviews

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Style + Substance = Engrossing Theater - Dido, Queen of Carthage

By Christopher Marlowe

American Shakespeare Center, Blackfriars Playhouse, Staunton, Va.,
Sunday, April 1, 2012, D 5-6 (middle stalls)
Actors’ Renaissance Season

Let’s talk Hamlet a moment. Even with all its intrigue, singular characters, and great lines, one of that play’s most thrilling moments on the stage is the Player King’s speech on Hecuba and the fall of Priam. It is a stylized speech, and the best actors give it a lion’s roar of a reading: formal in presentation but emitting a passion from deep within. …

The ASC Interns' Blog: An interview with Sarah Fallon

Welcome to the third instalment of "Better Know an Actor." This time we talk with the lovely Sarah Fallon.


Sarah Fallon as Arethusa in Philaster, or Love Lies a Bleeding

Photo by Tommy Thompson.

What’s your name, and who do you play this season? (Editors’ note: The 2012 Actors’ Renaissance Season has closed.)

Sarah Fallon: My name is Sarah Fallon. Let’s start with the beginning: I play Conrad and Ursula in Much Ado about Nothing, I play Margaret, Prince Edward, and a citizen in Richard III, I play Arethusa in

Great Acting Can't Save "Dido, Queen of Carthage"

The final instalment in this year's Actors' Renaissance Season at the Blackfriars Playhouse will — simply because of timing — receive the fewest performances.

That's not altogether a bad thing. While I am a great fan of Christopher Marlowe, I have discovered I am not an unswerving one. "Dido, Queen of Carthage," was Marlowe's first major work and is undoubtedly the least interesting of any I have seen. Nearly every source I can find says it is "rarely performed."

Some plays should probably just remain so.

Right out of the gate I need to lay this less-than-enthusiastic review at the feet of the playwright and not at those of the performers. …

An Interview with Queen Margaret

Rowdy 'Shrew' is breathtaking fun

If you're going to do "The Taming of the Shrew," do it right.



At least, that appears to be the philosophy of the American Shakespeare Center, which has staged a spectacularly rowdy and fun-filled version of the Bard's most famous comedy of the sexes. It hums with energy; it wields language like a rapier; it pierces straight to the funny bone; it produces laughter and applause that rock the rafters of the Blackfriars Playhouse.

Director Jim Warren needs to take a bow for giving us a staging that makes absolutely no concessions to the lunacy of political correctness. …

'Othello' is familiar, but still a crowd pleaser



If you liked the 2006 American Shakespeare Center production of "Othello" — with Rene Thornton Jr. as the Moor and Sarah Fallon as Desdemona — you'll like the version currently on stage at the Blackfriars Playhouse. That's largely because the same two actors portray the same two lead characters and portray them with all the force and verve they gave us four years ago.


On the one hand, I'd like to have seen different actors in these two roles, if for no other reason than it would have given the play a unique tone. …

YOU'LL CATCH NO CATNAPS WITH AMERICAN SHAKESPEARE CENTER'S 'A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM'

CHARLES CULBERTSON • FOOTLIGHTS AND SPOTLIGHTS • FEBRUARY 19, 2009

Consider yourself forewarned. If you're not ready to laugh uproariously, cheer out loud or applaud until your hands hurt, then "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Blackfriars Playhouse probably isn't the place for you.

On second thought, maybe it is. What better way to obliterate your mid-winter ennui than with a slam-bang production of one of Shakespeare's most popular plays? And believe me, if this staging by the American Shakespeare Center doesn't shake you out of your doldrums, then an electrocardiograph might not be a bad idea.

'TRAGEDY' IS A DARK, FASCINATING TALE

CHARLES CULBERTSON • FOOTLIGHTS AND SPOTLIGHTS • FEBRUARY 26, 2009

When the main character of a play is named Vindice — Italian for "avenger" — and other characters' names indicate they are ambitious, lurid, empty, phony and sordid, it's pretty safe to say you're not going to see a tender little tale about fairies and buttercups.

With "The Revenger's Tragedy," which is now onstage at the Blackfriars Playhouse, you won't.

Despite the title, this brooding and yet surprisingly funny work by Thomas Middleton doesn't meet the classic definition of a tragedy — that is, a play in which a flawed but likable protagonist is understood and sympathized with by the audience. …

ASC'S 'CHANGELING' WILL ELICIT HEAT, CHILLS, BUMPS

Lead character goes from virginal gentlewoman to treacherous sinner

CHARLES CULBERTSON • FOOTLIGHTS AND SPOTLIGHTS • MARCH 5, 2009

Admittedly not knowing much about Jacobean drama — but having seen, and enjoyed, "The Revenger's Tragedy" at the Blackfriars Playhouse — I thought I knew what to expect with "The Changeling," a 1622 play by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley. If it was anything like "Revenger" (also by Middleton), the Blackfriars stage would eventually groan under the weight of the corpses heaped upon it.

Best of Denver 08

Bard's Broadsheet
Westword
Best of Denver '08
Best Shakespeare Production (2008)
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Within the magical A Midsummer Night's Dream, realities dissolve and two pairs of lovers are bamboozled by fairies into losing track of their original alliances and switching partners again and again. The interrelated themes are that love is crazy and lovers blind, that we all live in a world of illusion, and that theater itself mirrors this shifting, upside-down universe. …

Henry V


V for Victory

Sanford Robbins delivers a clear, resourceful prodction of Henry V.

by Mark Cofta

Published: May 9, 2007

"Think that when we talk of horses," an actor instructs, "you see them." Follow these simple directions and Shakespeare's Henry V — a play about war, honor and theater — comes to life in Sanford Robbins' engrossing Delaware Theatre Company production.

Commentary on the art of theater occurs throughout Shakespeare's plays, but nowhere are audiences tutored so clearly as in Henry V: "Let us, ciphers to this great account/On your imaginary forces work." …

Shakespeare, Straight Up

This article is in PDF format so you'll need Adobe Reader (www.adobe.com)

Earnest

"The Importance of Being Earnest"


Oscar Wilde said the secret to remaining young was to have an inordinate passion for pleasure.

The same might be said for successfully staging his masterpiece, "The Importance of Being Earnest." Instead, nearly every attempt is a travesty because one reverential director after another forgets that Wilde's scathing satire of Victorian aristocracy is, after all, a comedy. A nearly perfect comedy with more zingers than any Will Ferrell movie.

In comedy (then and now), reverence plus caution equals dullness.

Hamlet

What is it that regularly brings us back to see what many consider to be the greatest play ever written? Hamlet, son of the slain King of Denmark with whom he shares a name, is the ultimate enigma of the theatre. Already distraught over the death of his father and the hurried remarriage of his mother when the play opens, the intelligent, loving, and princely young man is visited by his father's ghost, who tells him to revenge his death. The repercussions of this call from the grave on Hamlet's complex psyche reverberate throughout the rest of the tale and precipitate a number of key questions that must be answered by the actors and the director.

COLORADO 2007

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is waking up — and shaking things up.

By Juliet Wittman 

Published: July 5, 2007 

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival has been so thuddingly mediocre for so many years that I approached the opening night of A Midsummer Night's Dream filled with skepticism. And nothing I heard at the gala preceding the performance — as new artistic director Philip C. Sneed pontificated on the history of the festival, his debt to his predecessors, his plans for the future, his gratitude to both donors and festival staff — did anything to dissipate my cynicism. …

American Shakespeare Centre - 2006

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Othello at the American Shakespeare Center: A Round, Unvarnished Tale


I come not to bury the American Shakespeare Center, but to praise it -- and I mean to praise it to its gorgeous oaken rafters if I can. With the opening of Othello, the most domestic and provocative of Shakespeare's major tragedies, the four-play lineup for the center's "Summer/Fall Season" is finally complete. Although I have yet to see the ASC's productions of As You Like It, The Tempest, and MacBeth -- all in heavy rotation from now through November -- I'm happy to report that the final show in the series, Othello, is a delight from start to finish.


Sarah Fallon: Hot Like Salsa, smooth Like Chocolate.. Come Taste Me ...