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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 6 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 27
Oregon Shakespeare Festival offerings spark lively debate
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Oregon Shakespeare Festival offerings spark lively debate

by Marian Michener - SGN A&E Writer

I was impressed with Alison Carey's adaptation of The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, reset in Iowa in the present time, as an argument for Gay marriage. My partner, however, found it didactic and preaching to the choir. The direction by Christopher Liam Moore got all the details right. Scenic design by Chrisopher Acebo and costumes by Alex Jaeger contributed.

David Kelly's Falstaff was right on. In the updating, he is a senator who has failed in the Iowa caucuses. Terri McMahon was strong as Margaret, one of the wives, as was Hina Daniels as Alice Ford, the other one. Robin Goodrin Nordli was convincing as Francie Ford. We joked about the fact that Catherine Coulson, who plays Miss Quickly, was the Log Lady in Twin Peaks.

Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella is an adaptation of the plays by Euripides, Shakespeare, and Rodgers & Hammerstein, respectively, by Bill Rauch and Tracy Young (the pair also co-direct). Rauch, who is OSF's artistic director, has had a 30-year love affair with the play.

My spouse thought Cinderella didn't go well with the dark material of the other two plays, but my stepdaughter and I thought it was defensible.

We all agreed Miriam Laube's performance as Medea was apt. I liked Christopher Liam Moore's Lady Macbeth, but my significant other thought he looked like a drag queen playing Gloria Swanson. The rest of the ensemble was strong throughout. Our daughter pointed out that the scenery by Rachel Hauck and costumes by Deborah Dryden were amazing.

Jessica Thebus' direction of As You Like It is a feminist version, including a mime show of the mothers of Orlando, Rosalind, and Celia. This is the first time I've seen this play include the mothers. Todd Rosenthal's set is a massive clockwork mechanism with decorations representing day and night. Linda Roethke's Victorian costumes work well.

Wayne Carr's Orlando and Erica Sullivan's Rosalind had chemistry. Deaf actor Howie Seago was good as Duke Senior. My partner liked the interlacing of sign language into the action, which was fun to see. It was nice to have a woman, Kathryn Meisle, play the role of Jacques, though a friend pointed out that she wasn't as melancholy as the role requires. I agreed.

Joseph Haj's direction of Henry V is lush. Richard Hay's scenery and Jan Chambers' costumes help. John Tufts, as the king, has matured nicely through the Henriad, getting to the point where he is willing to judge his former raucous companions. Howie Seago plays the Duke of Exeter. My spouse would have liked his translator's signing to have been more visible. Brooke Parks was sweet as Katherine, Princess of France.

Sue Carney did an interesting Green Show about Elizabethan musical instruments. She has been involved in the Green Show for a long time, including having been the director at one point.

The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa runs through October 13; Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella through November 3; As You Like It through October 14; and Henry V through October 12. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is located in Ashland, near the California border. Tickets are available at www.osfashland.org or by calling (541) 482-4331.

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