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Friday, July 20, 2012

Two Evenings of Spectacle and Shakespeare!

I bought my Festival Pass for Freewill Players over a month ago, however I was unable to use it until this week.  On Wednesday I bundled up and watched Julius Caesar and last night I took in The Tempest.  I don't always make it to both shows of the Festival, but I had never seen (or read) either of the shows this year so I really wanted to.  The focus this year seemed to be on spectacle and that choice served both pieces well.  I loved discovering the plays onstage and live and this was a true test for myself and for the productions.  I enjoyed both, but was a bit distanced from each for different reasons.

Julius Caesar was wrapped up in it's struggle with ambition vs. ideals and the world of politics. It felt like more of an idea play than an action play (even though there is action).  This is not a criticism, merely an observation.  It was and is interesting to think about whether you can do something wrong for the right reasons.  I was surprised to discover that Brutus is really the central character (I didn't know! I told you I went in totally unprepared beyond knowing about the ides of March and the stabbing.) and as always Chris Bullough was excellent.  I did find it hard to identify a villain because of the humanizing approach the production took with regards to Cassius (Kevin Corey), but discussions with others afterwards led me to believe that ambition was the villain. Although the spectacle did occasionally remove me emotionally from the play it did help to provide one of the best battle scenes I have ever seen on a stage.

The Tempest was delightful and playful.  It was not as dark as I was expecting (I think I was influenced by Julie Taymor's trailers for her film) and I laughed quite a bit, particularly at the clownish servants - Troy O'Donnell, Kevin Corey, and Nathan Cuckow.  Mat Simpson and Cayley Thomas-Haug were also quite fun as the young lovers.  I enjoyed the spectacle as it served the piece (so full of magic). I think my challenge was in finding a villain - but it is once again a character trait that plays that role - vengeance.  John Wright, perfect as Prospero, anchored the piece magnificently and Ariel (Amber Borotsik), along with her fellow island spirits, created a magical world.



* Julius Caesar and The Tempest mark #27 & #28 of my 2012 Theatre Goal

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