TIMON OF ATHENS: “riches to rags, generosity to despair” Reply

Review by Ellen S. Jaffe
Is friendship only as deep as your pocket?  What happens when you believe you are wealthy in friends as well as money – and then these friends desert you in your hour of need?  Timon of Athens, at Stratford, raises these questions, important for our time as well as Shakespeare’s. Timon is one of Shakespeare’s least performed plays; some scholars even think that the play was not written entirely by Shakespeare but in collaboration with another writer, perhaps Thomas Middleton. It has, however, been revived in the 20th and now 21st centuries, often set in modern dress, as in this production.    Photo by Cylla von Tydemann

      the cast of TIMON of ATHENS on stage

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“DRACULA”; like Cher, Elvis, or ‘Trump’, the name is eponymous. Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

Bram Stoker’s iconic 1897 Vampire story has given birth to countless Halloween costumes, non-quotes (I’ve come to suck your blood) and encouraged the formal wearing of capes (black, with red lining). Liz Lochhead, Scotland’s poet Laureate had re-written the original Stoker take on the 15th century Eastern European ruler Vlad Tepes, whose draconian rule incorporated impalement. Historically, his severity was an effective deterrent! Briefly, the plot deals with a Transylvanian who wishes to migrate to England in search of fresh virginal plasma to maintain his Nosferatu-ish eternal (& nocturnal) banquets.  Photo by Emily Cooper

Cherissa Richards about to nosh on Ben Sanders’ neck!

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Stratford’s “BAKKHAI” depicts searing conflict & tragedy Reply

Review by Ellen S. Jaffe
Bakkhai (aka Bacchae) by Euripides, presented at Stratford in a new translation & adaptation by renowned Canadian poet and writer Anne Carson, is a very powerful play. Indeed, it has been considered one of the world’s most powerful tragedies since its initial performance at the Dionysia drama festival in Athens, 405 B.C. E., at which Euripides was awarded a posthumous award.  Euripides (c. 486 B.C.E.-406 B.C.E.) is also the author of Medea, The Trojan Women, Elektra, and Iphigenia at Aulis, among many other works. Note that the plays I mentioned are not only about extreme situations, they also have women as central characters.

   Lucy Peacock & dance chorus members       Photo by Cylla von Tydemann

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“The Changeling”, a challenge to stage & witness Reply

Review by Danny & Terry Gaisin
            The seventeenth century play THE CHANGELING by Middleton & Rowley is arduous to stage, difficult to perform and grueling to watch. Despite the foregoing and being dated, Changeling is still popular enough for TV repetitions; radio broadcasts and – of course -stage representations. Stratford’s (& always SHAW’s) Jackie Maxwell has re-dated it to the pre-WWII practice-session Guerra civil- the Spanish Civil War. However, neither Franco’s right-wing forces nor the Falangists, anarchists, Fascist or Nazis involved in the struggle would have incorporated ‘thou’s or ‘maiden’ references into their vocabulary, even their Spanish substitute. So, time & lines seem anachronistic.

another on-stage tense dialogue moment in “THE CHANGELING

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“HMS Pinafore” – all the ‘♫Whys & Wherefores ♫’ 1

Review by Danny & Terry Gaisin

The first time we saw Gilbert & Sullivan’s 1881 operetta ‘HMS PINAFORE’, it was presented by a community theatre group that considered the lyrics remedial for folks with some speech challenges, and certainly singing was more fun than reciting tongue-twisters! The play has a strong but subtle message and denigrates ingrained British snobbism and oligarchic political attainment (think today’s White House). Stratford’s Lezlie Wade meticulously underscores the play’s comedic bent with impacting visual images; a creative and functional set, plus acute physical activity. Her choreographic utilization of the set’s two curved staircases will remind older individuals of the Busby Berkeley routines from the late fifties.

Admiral Laurie Murdoch chastising Captain Steve Ross before the crew & all those sisters/cousins/aunts!

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“TWELFTH NIGHT”, a convoluted five-some affair. Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
            Shakespeare’s four century-old comedy still manages to interest audiences and undergoes innumerable incarnations…even at Stratford. Folks still remember the musical version with Brian Dennehy as ‘Toby’. The present version also has music and sung dialogue with accentuation via bell-like crystal emphasis which is occasionally aurally hurtful. The major plot deals with separated siblings and a necessitated transsexual disguise. She; as a he, loves her boss – a duke; he adores a countess who falls for the girl thinking she’s a male, and finally, the villain of the piece, aptly named Malvolio. For our viewing, the intricacies were exacerbated by five casting replacements.

E.B. Smith & Sarah Afful arguing before Shannon Taylor & other cast members

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