BWW Reviews: SEATTLE OUTDOOR THEATER FESTIVAL 2010
Greenstage presented Seattle's Outdoor Theater Festival in Capitol Hill's Volunteer Park over the weekend of July 10th and 11th to kick off the many Summer park shows around the Puget Sound area. The festival encompassed 11 shows from eight different companies and while they mostly followed a Shakespearean bent there were also a few decidedly non-Shakespearean shows but all good fun for all ages and it's all FREE. Let's go through them, shall we?
While not technically a "show", many of the performances were introduced with a small demonstration of stage combat from the folks at Performers' Forge, a group dedicated to the education and performance of stage combat. Whether with swords, axes or bare fists, these are the pros who come into any show that contains fighting and makes sure it's done safely, cleanly and above all looks great. And like I said, while not technically a show, they managed to entertain the crowd with their demonstrations and really warmed us all up for the forthcoming shows.
You can find out more information about Performer's Forge by looking them up on Facebook.
Photo Credit: Jay Irwin
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM from Last Leaf Productions
My first foray into the land of the Bard this weekend began with Last Leaf Production's presentation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Shakespeare's tale of misdirected love, a man who becomes a donkey and how the Gods like to mess with us poor mortals. The show follows Titania and Oberon King and Queen of the fairies who are not having the best of marriages right now. So to entertain themselves they meddle in the lives of two couples, Lysander and Hermia and Demetrius and Helena with the help of minions including the mischievous Puck. But when potions are given to the wrong lovers and Oberon plays a joke on his wife by making her fall in love with an ass (who used to be an actor. Is that redundant?) all hell breaks loose in one of Shakespeare's most beloved comedies. The production here is enjoyable if not a bit inconsistent and slightly miscast. But there were a few shining elements of the show. Gail Wamba is lovely as the diva-ish Queen Titania. And Annelih G. Holganza brings tons of life to the show as the clever Puck. Although I'm not sure why she and the only other fairy in the show chose to interpret all of their lines into sign language as they performed. And only them. It seems to me, if it was for the deaf, they might have wanted to interpret all the lines and not just theirs. But all in all an enjoyable attempt and the actors definitely looked as if they were enjoying themselves.
Last Leaf will have future performances of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" over the summer in various parks around the Puget Sound area through July 31st. For more information on their schedule, check out their website at www.lastleaf99.org.
Photo Credit: Jay Irwin
OTHELLO from Wooden O
Next we have "Othello" presented by Wooden O in conjunction with the Seattle Shakespeare Company. Here the eponymous Othello is a most revered General but also a Moor. So when she falls for and weds the Senator's daughter Desdemona, the news does not go over well. Add to it that Othello has overlooked the jealous Iago in favor of the youthful Cassio to be his lieutenant and look out! The jealous Iago has devised a plan to make Othello think that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair which causes Othello to go into a murderous rage. Othello is one of Shakespeare's most often produced plays as many feel it's themes of racism, love, jealousy and betrayal are still quite relevant today. And while this is not the best production I've seen, the actors and director really know what the story is about and manage to convey it with zeal. Genesis Oliver has the power and rage for the Moor and seriously made me afraid for Desdemona's life while still sympathizing with his pain. George Mount as the conniving Iago was subtly yet deliciously evil. And kudos to Heather Hawkins for her portrayal of Iago's unwitting accomplice Emilia. A sublime performance of an underappreciated character. So overall a wonderful production if not a bit over-produced for a park show (do we need a soundtrack?).