KPBS AIRDATE: February 07, 2004
First, get the details. Then, get even. It’s the same info/action sequence in a classic tragedy and a modern comedy. In “Hamlet,” the Prince needs confirmation from his father’s ghost that his uncle really did commit fratricide and then marry his mother. And, in “Women Who Steal,” Peggy needs to know when, where and how often her husband slept with Karen. Arm yourself with the facts and then act. For Hamlet, the ruminator, cogitator and procrastinator, revenge takes time. In Carter Lewis’ often-hilarious romp, Peggy doesn’t waste a moment. In the course of one wild night, she and Karen battle and bond, celebrate a birthday, dance under the moon, shoot one man and kidnap another, and drink copious quantities of Jose Cuervo tequila. By the end, desperation and despair have turned to remorse, forgiveness and the possibility of happiness.
Hamlet should only be so lucky. The bodies pile up and there’s barely anyone left alive to tell the tale. Lamb’s Players Theatre has taken on the monumental Shakespearean challenge, in celebration of 10 years in Coronado and 100 productions directed by Robert Smyth. Harking back to the company’s street-theater roots, he’s enhanced the role of the ragtag band of Players, who waft in and out and watch all the action in this energetic production. Nick Cordileone is a nimble and intelligent Prince, but not an overly deep or despairing one. Extreme effort seems to have been put into making the masterwork comprehensible, which suggests less than total trust in the audience. The text is considerably abridged, the comic relief is heightened and there’s music nearly throughout. The language is clearly and naturally articulated, but the depth of character and the intensity of emotion are somewhat lacking. Nonetheless, it’s a valiant and commendable effort, which will be especially appreciated by those who are a bit timid about the Bard. The multi-hued costumes are attractive, the ghost is spooky, and the deadly duel is well executed. Anyone can readily feast on this easily digested version of the immortal tragedy.
But if you’re hungry for humor, you won’t want to miss “Women Who Steal” at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. Sam Woodhouse has impeccably cast this Thelma-Louise comedy, and directed it with rat-a-tat timing. Shana Wride and Linda Libby are a dazzling duo: one an attractive, over-educated, overly-analytical, still-single 40 year-old motor-mouth; the other an earthy, no-nonsense, menopausal wife-and-mother in distress. And between them, vigorous and varied as the men in their lives, is the first-rate Bernard Baldan. The set, lighting and sound are as quirky as the play, which though side-splittingly funny, also covers a fair amount of thematic turf: male-female miscommunication, middle age angst, loneliness, desperation, hope, regret and the path not taken. But mostly, it’s an estrogen-enhanced Ms. Toad’s wild ride. Buckle up and have a blast.
©2004 Patté Productions Inc.