Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 8, 2011

A Quartet of Plays-1 Hound, 2 Gents, Twins & Molly

Shakespeare & Company, Lenox, MA
most through September 4, 2011
by Shera Cohen

Photo By Kevin Sprauge
Read Spotlight’s review of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” from 9/30/2009. (Link HERE) Ditto. The production of this fast, furious, and funny play replicates its success of two years ago. The only significant change is the move from the Bernstein Theatre to Founders Theatre. The latter offers room for additional set surprises. The trio of humorous actors – Ryan Winkles, Josh Aaron McCabe, and Jonathan Croy – coupled with direction by Tony Simotes, make for a play worth seeing at least twice.

“Two Gentlemen of Verona” is a romp with the Actor Training Performance Intern Company. All of the usual Shakespeare stuff fills this comedy: mistaken identity, banishment, love at first sight, a forest, women disguised as men, a duke or two, and a happy ending.

The outdoor Rose Footprint Theatre is home to “The Venetian Twins.” While this Moliere-ish farce could have been penned by The Bard, credit goes to Carlo Goldoni. And, since names are being dropped, keep watching David Joseph – a young actor with charm, versatility, and a singing voice to match any tenor. In the starring dual role (after all, these are identical twins), Joseph is a powerhouse as he runs through the tented stage and spouts hilarious lines. Deftly adapted by the troupe’s talented team of Jonathan Croy and Jenna Ware, the play is easily appreciated on two levels, with puns and asides for adult viewers and straight laughs for younger audience members. BTW, take a look up at the left corner of the tent top to see mother bird feeding her offspring in their nest. How she and the babes contend with ruff ‘n tumble antics of “Twins” is remarkable.

The one woman show, “Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins,” started this week on the Bernstein stage. Who else but Shakespeare & Company’s founder/actress Tina Packer could play such a profound, funny, and big role? Packer gives life to the real Molly, a political journalist of note for several decades.

On any given day except Mondays (even actors need a day of rest), this company mounts at least five plays per day. Whew!