KPBS AIRDATE: July 15, 2005
The summer is heating up on local stages, and there’s every kind of offering from the ridiculous to the sublime.
At the Globe’s outdoor Summer Shakespeare Festival, you can have it both ways. Festival artistic director Darko Tresnjak reveals his whimsical and silly side with a vaudeville/slapstick production of “The Comedy of Errors.” Shakespeare’s lightweight, fast-paced, farcical early work concerns two long-separated sets of twins and an absurd series of pitfalls, pratfalls and mistaken identities. The humor is broad, and Tresnjak throws in every shtick in the book. He’s even got a Bollywood musical number, a puppet show that illustrates the complicated backstory, and a Jew and Muslim who beat on each other throughout the miraculously condensed 90-minute romp, and wind up arm in arm at the end. The direction is precisely choreographed and often extremely funny, as are many of the performances, notably the twin servants, Dromio, played by Liam Craig and Evan Zes as Charlie Chaplin Little Tramps, with loose limbs, big shoes and rat-a-tat timing.
In a far more serious vein, Paul Mullins, of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, provides stunningly inventive direction of “Macbeth.” In the title role, Tom Hammond starts out rather weak and wimpy for a general, but he ends up aggressive and quite marvelously mad. Deirdre Lovejoy brings a seething intensity to Lady M, the power-hungry force behind the throne – and the murders. J. Paul Boehmer is stalwart as Banquo and his ghost scene is deliciously creepy. Lindo Cho’s costumes are wonderful, especially the blood-red diaphanous dresses for the witches, who end the play with an ominous foreshadowing of disasters to come, intoning, as they did at the outset, “When shall we three meet again?” In other words, Who’s Next?
That, by the way, is the title of one of the famous anti-war ditties of the inimitable song satirist of the 1960s, Tom Lehrer. For the first time, the revue of his political and hysterical music, “Tomfoolery,” is being presented here, at North Coast Repertory Theatre, in a co-production with Renaissance Theatre, helmed by George Flint. And it’s sheer, unadulterated delight. Ole Kittleson provides clever musical staging, Cris O’Bryon directs a crack backup band, while Jeanne Reith offers a comical array of costumes. Each performer has a knockout number – Priscilla Allen with the murderous “Rickety Tickety Tin,” Ed Hollingsworth with the hilarious “Hunting Song,” David Humphrey, with his movie star looks, repeatedly excellent, especially in tandem with charismatic Kristen Mengelkoch, a recent graduate of the SDSU MFA program in musical theater, who has great moves, a putty face and a killer voice.
Comedy, tragedy, political-musical – it’s all here, right in your backyard. So step out for a breath of fresh air.
©2005 Patté Productions Inc.