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50 SHADES OF SHAKESPEARE

ensemble theatre · la new court theatre · Ages 21+ · United States of America

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Review by ERIK BLAIR

June 24, 2016 certified reviewer

What I liked

The Actors: 4 Actors, each of which knows all the scenes they could possibly play in a given night and have to be ready to play any of the parts? Great idea—if the actors can pull it off. THESE can. Nicely, nicely done.

The Concept: Random actors chosen for scenes from Shakespeare. Simple, easy to understand. The comedy (or drama) comes from seeing how they pull it off. Very straight forward—but that’s great, especially in the 45 min. format they’ve put together.

What I didn't like

Strangely, the only thing I didn’t like was that sometimes (including with me) they had people draw out a name from the bag when it wasn’t a choice—when it was the last of the four and so HAD to be someone. If there’s no random left, just draw out that one directly and name it—then let the next person draw from the NEXT set of random, so we don’t feel cheated. ’Cause I know I sort of did for a moment.

My overall impression

I’d been told to go see this show, so I finally made time to do so—and I’m glad I did. In 45 mins, these four actors did an AMAZING job of improvising several scenes of Shakespeare where they didn’t know which character they would be until that show began.

Now let’s be clear—that means they know ALL the lines and characters for ALL the scenes, so it’s not like they’re making it up from scratch. But even still, to have all the possible combinations and then have to leap into it at a moment’s notice is a tough job—and they do it both admirably and VERY well, including men playing women and vice versa.

There wasn’t a bad scene in the group, although some scene most definitely worked better than others. The good news is at 45 mins, NO scene lasted more than a few minutes so even if a scene was one that you weren’t terribly fond of, it moved on pretty quickly.

This is the sort of show that could be run anywhere, forever. And it’s the sort of show I think they SHOULD keep running somewhere. And then lots of other people would get a chance to see this concept play out.

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