Review: THE BED TRICK at the Center Theatre At Seattle Center

A Collegiate Shakespearean Study

By: Mar. 24, 2024
Review: THE BED TRICK at the Center Theatre At Seattle Center
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Review: THE BED TRICK at the Center Theatre At Seattle Center
Rachel Guyer-Mafune, Libby Barnard, ​​​​and Sophia Franzella
in The Bed Trick at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center.
Photo Credit: Giao Nguyen 

Best friends, betrayals, love, and lust - Keiko Green’s new work, The Bed Trick, has it all. Seattle Shakespeare's first new commissioned work is set to be a complete hit. Skillfully directed by Makaela Milburn, the dorm window blinds have opened at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center.

The Bed Trick is a brand-new work that plays on some extremely old work. Weaving in themes and dialogue from Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, the six-person cast goes through one collective, mind-boggling journey, as we get to witness each character fight their own internal battles. Set on a small college campus, three roommates struggle with their relationships with each other, family, and most trivially, boys. 

The show touches on and challenges some of the most controversial themes from Shakespeare's work, putting into perspective ideas of consent that are not very clear in All’s Well That Ends Well. The characters struggle and openly discuss this topic, navigating a timely discussion that has gained necessary awareness in recent years

The Bed Trick features Libby Barnard (Harriet), Sophia Franzella (Marianne), Rachel Guyer-Mafune (Lulu), MJ Sieber (Benny), Ricky Spaulding (Willis), and Alexandra Tavares (Anna) - a powerful and cohesive ensemble that delivers some of the wittiest and most humorous moments recently. 

Keiko Green’s writing is clever and quick while simultaneously thorough and deep. Her ability to bounce between laughter-evoking moments and gut-wrenching character revelations lends itself to the caliber of this show. The audience loved every moment, bursting out in roars of laughter and notes of agreement every other beat. 

Libby Barnard’s portrayal of the quirky and seemingly misunderstood Harriet set the tone for the night with a stellar opening monologue that mirrored Shakespearean openers. Her capability to connect with the crowd had us engaged from the very first moments until the final line. She provided a needed voice of reason throughout the show, while still openly struggling herself. Watching this internal conflict play out was captivating. As equally physically humorous as she is emotionally magnetic, Barnard has true star power. 


 

Review: THE BED TRICK at the Center Theatre At Seattle Center
Sophia Franzella, Rachel Guyer-Mafune, and Ricky Spaulding
in The Bed Trick at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center.
Photo Credit: Giao Nguyen 

Some of the most memorable moments of the night come from MJ Sieber as Benny and Alexandra Tavares as Anna. Portraying Marianne’s recently divorced and extremely confused parents, both are electric when onstage by themselves, and even more so when they are together. Sieber did a marvelous job at balancing the humor and despair of his character, oftentimes interlacing the two together. Tavares takes us on a journey of the battle for self-love, confusion, and yearning. She does so with hilarious one-liners and tear-jerking moments. 

Sophia Franzella and Rachel Guyer-Mafune play Marianne and Lulu, Harriet’s two roommates who go on different yet shockingly similar personal journeys. It’s clear the pair have built a strong relationship based on their quick rapport and excellent timing. The way these two characters dance around each other the entire show is mesmerizing as they provide an exceptional glance into these two confused although relatable girls. 

Rounding out the ensemble is Ricky Spaulding as Willis. Spaulding brings Willis to life with heart and a deep understanding of the character. It’s easy to write Willis off as the distasteful boyfriend, but Spaulding keeps us engaged long enough to give us the full story. 

Although The Bed Trick’s writing and acting are exceptional, props also have to go to the creative team, who designed a stunning set and on-point costumes. Scenic designer Parmida Ziaei designed an extremely realistic college dorm room that would make any alumni reminisce. With the dorm in the front and center, Ziaei also gives our character smaller areas on either side to play out the necessary interactions. The design is genius and lighting designer Andrew D. Smith works hand-in-hand with Ziaei to spotlight the thoughtful set.

Costume designer Andi Alhadeff hit each character’s style perfectly. In a new place, newly 18-year-old college freshmen are often still experimenting with their style, and Alhadeff did a wonderful job at representing that, having our characters go from eccentric skirts and boots to street style, allowing the newly divorced Anna to reinvent her style as well. 

Each part of the puzzle that is Seattle Shakespeare’s The Bed Trick fits together masterfully. Anyone who attends the show is promised a night of explosive laughter and some hefty reflection. I can see myself recommending this show to anyone, it’s that good.


The Bed Trick runs from now until April 7 at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit: www.seattleshakespeare.org/




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