Friday, Jun 23, 2017

Posts Tagged ‘Stephanie Beatriz’

Measure for Measure (2011)

I had the privilege of seeing Measure for Measure at OSF in 1998 at the Black Swan. Many elements of that production blew me away. I remember being surprised when audience members stood up and joined the play (being actors, not watchers) and the essential moment when the ironically named Angelo lays out his awful choice to the Isabella, sleep with me or your beloved brother will die, literally shocked me.

So it was with anticipatory pleasure that I waited all year for the new production; I was intrigued by the idea of a 70s setting, and Bill Rauch always does good work. This is a difficult play for modern audiences – the choice between the chastity required by one’s religion and the life of a brother doesn’t seem like a difficult one; but I trusted OSF to make me feel it, once again.

Sadly, this production did not wow me.

It opens beautifully, with three women cleaning a board room, singing softly. When they pull out guitars from the refuse cart and transform into mariachis, I smiled with happiness and settled in for another fascinating take on Shakespeare’s timeless scenarios. A few things felt a bit gimmicky – elegant Cristofer Jean’s transvestite Mistress Overdone was just on the edge, but several audience members were completely fooled by his transformation. And I particularly did not like the scene when the friar (Anthony Heald) and Isabella smoke cigarettes together and plan for the “greater good”; I felt it diminished her purity, which perhaps was the point. While I’m talking about the things I didn’t like, Stephanie Beatriz’s performance was stiff and awkward. I felt like I was watching a new actress, a tween even, and she never found her rhythm.

However, Kenajuan Bentley’s Lucio was prime excellence, a jive-talking stud who *owned* his part. Ramiz Monsef’s Pompey was smoothly snarky, hitting the comedic notes like a jazz musician. Rene Milan’s Angelo is tightly-wrapped passion and oily evil. I loved the 70’s counterculture, urban vibe, and the set design by Clint Ramos was excellent.

All in all, I’m glad I saw this play, but it doesn’t come close to the power of the earlier version that lives within my memory.

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry for Ashland Link


Cat On a Hot Tin Roof (2010)

Photo by Jenny Graham

Photo by Jenny Graham

You know you’ve seen something special when Company members are snuffling emotionally in the row behind you. The stereotype of comedians is for them to nod at another comedian’s act and say “that was funny” without actually laughing. I’ve seen actors leave a powerful, moving show giving high fives and chatting excitedly about the performances. So, the fact that the cast of this year’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof got to their fellow actors should tell you a lot.

The play is largely a character-driven piece – there’s a plot, but the external story doesn’t actually move much and the play is essentially in real-time. Maggie (a sublime Stephanie Beatriz) comes from a hard-scrabble childhood but is now married to Brick (the what’s-left-to-say Danforth Comins), a drunken, washed-up athlete who has forsworn a budding career as a television sports announcer in favor of the bottle; Brick is the favorite son of a wealthy plantation owner who may or may not be dying soon. The action, then, revolves around the machinations of Big Daddy’s sons (Brick and his brother Gooper, the latter played with quiet frustration by Rex Young) and their wives (Maggie and Mae, respectively, the latter played by Kate Mulligan with scene-stealing brio) to secure the prime inheritance share from their father. When they aren’t digging at each other, they mostly turn on themselves.


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.