Review: VENUS AND ADONIS at Taffety Punk Theatre Company

Shakespearean Love and Tragedy here through April 27th

By: Apr. 23, 2024
Review: VENUS AND ADONIS at Taffety Punk Theatre Company
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Narrators (L to R) Lise Bruneau and Tonya Beckman. Photo by Marcus Kyd.

One Shakespearean tragedy of two lovers is read in every English class; the other is shockingly almost never mentioned. Taffety Punk Theatre Company’s VENUS AND ADONIS rights this wrong by animating the short-story and poem to beautiful effect.

The athletic Adonis catches the eye of Venus, the goddess of love. Journeying down to earth, she interrupts Adonis in the middle of hunting. Adonis, absorbed in the thrill of the hunt, spurns the advances of Venus as she seduces him with flourishing language. Despite his initial hesitance, Venus’ allure wins out. But after a disagreement leads to Adonis storming off to go hunt, Venus prophecies his fate and seeks to stop it before it is too late. With colorful storytelling by the narrators, the poem touches on themes of love, lust, loss, and hope.

The poem is narrated by Taffety Punk company member Tonya Beckman and co-founder Lise Bruneau and weaves in dance pieces performed by Sarina Martinez de Osaba. It is directed by Marcus Kyd and choreographed by Erin Mitchell Nelson.

Tonya Beckman is incredibly funny and her facial expressions speak just as eloquently as her spoken word. As the piece was written as a long-form poem and not a play, it’s up to the narrators to paint the picture. Beckman knows this and keeps the audience focused even when wading through Shakespeare’s more complex passages.

Lise Bruneau, fresh off her 2024 Helen Hayes nominated performance in ‘The Honey Trap,’ speaks Shakespearean poetry so fluently and elegantly. Bruneau is keenly aware of how essential her storytelling role is and telegraphs the meaning precisely through delivery and gestures. Bruneau and Beckman are an excellent pairing for the performance.

Sarina Martinez de Osaba takes the stage at various parts in the poem to dance to its rhythm. Martinez de Osaba moves so smoothly when following the flow of words and music. Her classical training in ballet is evident, though she shows a strong familiarity with contemporary dance. Martinez de Osaba’s talent and training are strong and apparent in VENUS AND ADONIS.

Choreographer and Taffety Punk co-founder Erin Mitchell Nelson knows how to choreograph to a dancer’s strengths. She focuses deeply on the precision necessary to match the dance to simultaneous music and spoken word and the attention to detail is evident.

This is not director and Taffety Punk co-founder Marcus Kyd’s first Shakespeare adaptation, and much like the narrators, he knows how to make people understand. The careful alternating off gave the narrators personalities in a creative and engaging approach. Kyd’s opening remarks drew resounding parallels between the pandemic era that the poem was drafted in, and the modern post-pandemic era in which Taffety Punk’s show was performed.

Taffety Punk emphasizes that they are a troupe that seeks to keep, “the cost at the door low, while keeping production values high.” In their show and beyond, Taffety Punk delivers. By keeping theatre available and delivering high-quality work, such as VENUS AND ADONIS, Taffety Punk stays true to their message and remains heartily authentic.

Taffety Punk Theatre Company’s VENUS AND ADONIS runs through April 27th. The performance runs 75 minutes with no intermission.


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