Friday, Jun 23, 2017

Category: OSF 2008

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (2008)

Some very talented actors clearly invested a lot of themselves in this year’s production of “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.” Unfortunately, they did so in service to a bizarre production that managed to be both boring and gaudy, confusing yet otherwise unaffecting. Just a teeny bit of relevant editor’s background here: my reading tastes run to fantasy and science fiction and my theatrical tastes, while not fully formed yet, have been broad enough to enjoy “odd” productions like “Lorca in a Green Dress.” I bring this up only to say that it wasn’t impossible for me to enjoy this production; I just didn’t.


A View from the Bridge (2008)

Let me get this out of the way right now: A View From the Bridge is the best play I saw this year at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Yes, other plays were more defiant (I’m looking at you, Midsummer) or more “beautiful” (yes, there’s love for you too, Clay Cart). Hedda Gabler was more inventive, and The Comedy of Errors was, strictly speaking, more entertaining. But no, View knocked my socks off in a way that none of the others reached. It is fundamentally solid in all aspects, with outstanding acting in service of a fine play. The set is clever without being (ahem) a scene-stealer. The sound and lighting are fine if unremarkable. This is not a spectacle, this is above all things a story told by great storytellers.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2008)

If you’ve already seen one or six productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and you’re thinking that you can skip this year’s production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival… wrong wrong-y wrong wrong. Assuming you can still get tickets, buy two: one to see the show, and one to sacrifice to Dionysus as an apology. There is so much good about this production that I have to start the kudos with Mark Rucker, a new director to the Festival. He is absolutely fearless in the chances he takes, embracing them rapturously rather than mincing them for fear of rejection.


Othello (2008)

This year our trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival began with Othello. My experience with the play only goes so far as a reading and a movie, so I was excited to have a company I’m fond of introduce me to the work.

Well.


Our Town (2008)

Our Town is the first 20th century play to be produced on the Elizabethan Stage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Given this year’s production, I’d say it’s a safe bet to expect more. This well-acted production takes no “chances” with the source material, Thornton Wilder’s 1930’s play, and contents itself with giving us the play as it was intended.


The Clay Cart (2008)

I saw The Clay Cart at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival the same weekend as the plays in my first batch of reviews – the week leading up to July 4th. The fact that I’m just now finding the momentum to post this is probably a review all by itself, but the truth is more complicated than that. Reading just a little bit between the lines, I think it’s clear that The Clay Cart is meant to be Bill Rauch’s “signature play” for the season: “this is how things work on my watch.” I don’t think he’s trying to disparage Libby Appel’s work, he’s just making his mark; new kid in school and all that. The marketing material for members is fronted with a picture from the production, as is this year’s Illuminations. When L. and I bought the tickets last year we were excited, since Mr. Rauch had just knocked our socks off with his Romeo and Juliet.

Even my pre-play anticipation was stoked. The set by Christopher Acebo is gorgeous: a round stage with couches surround about 2/3rds of it in a way that makes the audience the last 1/3rd of a complete circle, including us in the company; beautiful lanterns are suspended over the stage and out into the audience… it was wonderful. When the company enters, they trickle in, bowing their way into the circle, and sing an invocational hymn. Yay! I’m ready to be awesomed.

And then the play starts. I have only three problems with it.