Karen’s review of Animal Crackers:
Although I may have seen the Marx Brothers film by this name, I have no independent memory of it. I was assured by a fellow theatre-goer that the play we saw that night bore only the faintest resemblance to the movie. I settled in to enjoy two and a half hours of pure entertainment by a cast with boundless energy and enthusiasm for the material and its historical importance in the American theatrical tradition. And, they hit every single nail squarely on its head.
The first visual joke got the audience in the mood; the second had us smiling. The third followed quickly behind but the fourth, entirely unexpected and “over the top,” brought forth a roar of approval. The jokes never stopped coming and the audience never stopped laughing. Read More
Karen’s Review of Party People:
As the second of this season’s plays in the OSF American Revolutions: The United States History Project, “Party People” struck closer to my personal experience than had “All the Way” the day before. Not only because I lived in close proximity through the events portrayed, but also because a colleague of mine had been shot by a member of the Black Panthers, in spite of her role as one of their defense attorneys.
The production (it is so much more than a “play”) was conceived, created and performed by UNIVERSES, a dozen actors/singers/dancers/composers/political activists who incorporate all of these skills into their work. The result is a multi-media, multi-emotional experience. Read More
“Medea Macbeth Cinderella”
Karen’s Review of MMC:
This is the fourth iteration of a play-making process Bill Rauch began 30 years ago. At that time it was presented in his dormitory basement, then as an Actor’s Gang-Cornerstone production in 1998 in Los Angeles before opening the Yale Repertory Theatre’s season in 2002.
And, it is a fascinating idea. Take three plays, one from each of “the three great populist movements of Western drama” – classical Greek tragedy, Elizabethan drama and the American musical – and meld them together into one theatrical experience. Apparently, Rauch placed the scripts side by side and discovered a “synchronicity” of themes and events. They all dealt with the same things: ambition, magic, transformation, the parent/child relationship, and the role of women in male-dominated societies. “Medea Macbeth Cinderella” pays homage to these themes and the three historical genres. Read More
Another review from Karen, this one on Robert Schenkkan’s play “All the Way.”
Robert Schenkkan’s play about Lyndon Baines Johnson takes place during the first year of his Presidency, immediately after the assassination of Jack Kennedy in 1963. The production went into rehearsal at the same time as the release of Robert Caro’s fourth volume of his LBJ biography, covering about the same time period. The play focuses less on the events of that year, and much more on the interactions between the President and the major players in those events: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, Governor George Wallace, and Senators Dick Russell, Everett Dirksen, and Hubert Humphrey. Read More
My dear friend and long-standing guest Karen writes this review of Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa. My opinions are in the comments.
Maybe it was the stress of worrying whether or not the fog was going to lift early enough for my Monterey-SFO flight to land in time for me to make my 1/2 hour connection to the plane to Medford. Or, perhaps it was the cab driver telling me that the audience for this show was “leaving in droves” at the intermission. Or, it could have been the other guests at my favorite bed and breakfast remarking how astonished they were that OSF would present a play that still needed so much work. Read More
Oregon Shakespeare Festival “Seagull” is a thought-provoking, moving play: in all aspects a superb production.
Unlike quite a few of my guests, I almost never pre-read a script or research the play before viewing it. However, in this case, for this play, my interest and enjoyment of this play would have been improved with a little preparation.
For me, more contextual knowledge would have increased my engagement while viewing this play. Read More
White Snake, adapted by Oregon Shakespeare Festival, is a fairytale portrayed with lavish beauty and clever illusion.
An ancient tale with classic messages, enacted beautifully with a blend of puppetry, light, ingenious prop use, acrobatic dance and live music. Both tragic and comedic, the tale will speak to many about loyalty, jealousy and most of all, loving enduring acceptance of others despite their demons.
The run time is shorter than most plays, thus you will be transported into the fairytale with no interruptions, i.e., no intermission!
If it’s not obvious by now, I really liked this performance. My only regret is that White Snake will not be played for the full season. It closes July 8th. Only those who come early in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s season will be rewarded with this delightful performance.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival: Animal Crackers bodes well for the 2012 season!
Is it wacky? Yes. Is it broad in humor? Oh yes. Will it delight those who adore play on words and social satire? Yes, again. Will it charm those who love song and dance? Definitely!
In the Vaudeville and Marx Brothers tradition, Animal Crackers is entertainment, strong on fun and weak on plot. But it’s Vaudeville: do we really need a solid storyline? It’s entertainment that the entire family should enjoy. Judging by the two pre-teen girls sitting behind me who giggled, clapped and chortled throughout the entire play, I say bring the kids!
This is the first Oregon Shakespeare Festival play of the season I have seen and the first ever review I’ve written for this blog. For those who know me and know which plays I tend to favor, then you’ll know that Animal Crackers is not my kind of play. That said, Oregon Shakespeare Festival does madcap, zany so well that you should not miss Animal Crackers.
Alan “Rosey” Rosenberg, an Ashland realtor and self-styled theater reviewer has his own take on local performances and has created a website to share his passion for theater. So for another review (from a much more theatrically knowledgeable point of view) go to Mr. Rosenberg’s website.