Friday, May 23, 2014

OSF REVIEW: "The Comedy of Errors" (3) Cat's Meow

It is my great privilege to review four of the eleven 2014 shows staged by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Of the seven currently running, I am reviewing:

This is our second year reviewing OSF productions. Last year we covered "A Streetcar Named Desire," "The Unfortunates" and "Two Trains Running." I do regret that I didn't start sooner. Since I was in high school drama I have had an interest in attending an OSF production. I just didn't have a real drive to see Shakespeare, I guess. My bad. I regret not coming sooner and more often. I highly recommend the wonderful experience and that YOU not put it off like I did.

You can read my additional opening comments to this series here if you would like, but here's some new information:

Also you'll find our addition of supplemental information to help you plan your own OSF visit. Each play review will also offer an OSF Trip Tips section to help you better enjoy your visit as well as brief restaurant reviews.

Comedy is Cat's Meow

Adriana (Omoze Idehenre) tries to reason with Dromio of Harlem
(Rodney Gardiner) as Gustave (Mark Murphey) and Luce (Mildred
Ruiz-Sapp) try to minimize damage. Photo: Jenny Graham.
You may not ably follow the discourse, but you don't have to. While Elizabethan English may be difficult to fully understand to an untrained ear, the humor and jest of Shakespeare's classic comedies can be readily appreciated--especially when visually translated by a great director and talented cast. That's why you will enjoy this production regardless of your background in things Shakespearean.

The story idea is simple. Two sets of twins, both separated at a young age, ironically partner with a twin from the other set, and later in life come together in the same town and, never meeting (at first) are confused for one another. Okay, it's complicated, but many errors are made and much comedy ensues.

And it is the comedy and the lavish production that reigns here. 

Chaos ensues when Antipholus and Dromio suddenly appear, sparking a
chain (ding) of comic events. Ensemble. Photo: Jenny Graham.
Director Kent Gash has done a wonderful job and has set the play in 1920's Harlem. Indeed. And what you have is some great music and a feast for the eyes.

The cast, all of equal talent and energy, dial in a supreme performance in this fast-paced and deliciously visual production. The details are amazing in this thrust/blackbox presentation as visualized in the Harlem Renaissance.

The Chain (ding) of Command

Though much of the action centers on the antics of Dromio (played by Rodney Gardiner) and Antipholus (played by Tobie Windham) who must sustain the most energy and deliver the most lines, no single actor really stood out. It was an even playing field; and that's good.

Dromio of Harlem (Rodney Gardiner) and Antipholus of Harlem (Tobie
Windham) find themselves in trouble with the law (Mark Murphey).
Photo: Jenny Graham.
The costumes, by Kara Harmon, are stunning and vibrant; the blocking maniac; and the choreography, by Byron Easley, delightfully designed and well executed; the scenic design, by Jo Winiarski, and video projections (everywhere), by Shawn Duan, are impressive and stimulating; and the lighting, by Dawn Chiang, an LD's dream (the array of instruments was mind-boggling), truly impressive. All else technical was also well done.

The production is generally suited for the entire family (though there is an emphasis on breast touching) and runs one hour and forty-five minutes without an intermission.

OSF Trip Tips

The outdoor Elizabethan stage at OSF.
It's still May right now and it's 80+ degrees outdoors. Summers in Ashland can be even warmer, but it can get downright chilly in the theaters, so pack a jacket with you and be sure a stay hydrated. Oh, and don't forget the sunscreen if you're going to be outside for a while.

Also, be sure an purchase your tickets well in advance; shows do sell out, but be sure and check with the box office for last minute cancellation availability. Check in at 9:30 a.m. when it opens for your best chance.

OSF's season runs from February to November. Some shows open as early as February and some run as late as November, but only a few run the entire season. During the summer months all the shows are running, but it can not only be crowded, but downright HOT. Great times to visit are April/May and into early June or mid September through October. Rains can, and sometimes do, cause cancellation of outdoor shows (but rain vouchers are issued).

Note it is several degrees cooler under the trees and by the water in Lithia Park. Take a mid-summer's day toe-dippin' splash for even more cooling. And there are many deciduous trees here, so the park is very colorful in the fall.

Finally, when deciding where to stay there are many choices, from a local hostel through luxury hotels and bed and breakfasts. While we stayed in a chain (ding) hotel (La Quinta) there are many grand, classic hotels in the downtown area, many of which are in some way Elizabethan themed. Even our hotel had Shakespearean costumes in the lobby and prints in the rooms. The Ashland Springs Hotel (formerly the Mark Antony) is the official OSF hotel and basically adjacent to the OSF grounds. Here are some thoughts about the property from blogger Dennis Sparks.

No comments:

Post a Comment