Okay, let’s get real. It’s 40 minutes to midnight as I’m starting this post, I’ve been up since 7 AM, I’m doing the same thing tomorrow, and I’ve already written two show reviews today. And as I’m probably gonna have to remind a certain special photographer any day now, no one pays me for this shit. So let’s get right on to the good stuff, hey?
And the good stuff tonight was happening, as it often does, at Algonquin College, where their Theatre Arts Dept was having their final show of the season, SHAKESPEARE’S INTERACTIVE CIRCUS, a show with no specifically credited writer (but all props to Billy Shakes, as always). Originally a touring show performed by A Company of Fools at whatever venue would have them (I saw it myself a year or so back at the outdoor Lumiere Festival, and it was a gas), it’s been reshaped and reborn by founding fool fool and show director Al Connors for the college crew. Here, with a reliable indoor venue, willing and large 8-person cast, and a rubber chicken, was the chance to make some magic.
And I admit, having seen some of the greats do this piece (when I caught it, it was Scott Florence, Nancy Kenny, Richard Gelinas and Emmanuelle Zeesman performing…that’s some hard cheese right there, folks!), I was a touch skeptical. And there WERE a few rough bits, mostly in transitions…the show mostly consists of different zany/irreverent takes on Shakespeare, from a troupe suddenly bereft of its mythical leader, the Great Actor Sir Richard (not Gelinas, we already covered him). And while I recognized a few bits (the Romeo and Juliet Rap, the tag-team Taming of the Shrew), a few were joyously new to me (Mackers: the Musical, and the new, Enya-inspired take on King Lear).
They assembled an enthusiastic cast for this giddily Foolish venture…Ryan Acheson, Earl Carriere, Peterh Catalfamo, Sam Kellerman, Maggie Matian, Samuel Morgan, Michelle Stewart and Shekinah Wright. Each had their times to shine, and it looked to me like they were each having a grand time being there. A few hilites for me were: Catalfamo as the hyper-accented King of the infamous Scottish Play; Morgan and Kellerman as Pyramus and Thisbe (and Carriere as the Wall), from the intentionally shitty part of MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM; Shekinah Wright in…pretty much everything she did; Maggie Matian as Queen Tamora from Titus Andronicus, gleefully leading her cast to certain death (not to mention her constant rubber-chicken flogging); and the traditional tag-team Taming of the Shrew was pulled off masterfully by this young crew of Fools…a good sign of things to come.
It took me a little while to get into the groove of this one, but one I did, I was hooked. The gang threw themselves into it (seriously, the KING LEAR bit is worth going for all on its own), the music is as hot as you would expect from a Connors-directed project, and my only regret is that I didn’t have any of the often-delicious Algonquin snacks. Well, okay, that and that I was too shy to talk to Maggie Matian when she showed up at my bus stop after the show. But she was probably really tired, and didn’t want to hear from ANOTHER fan…sigh.
Anyways, this CIRCUS is a goddam hoot, and you should check it out if you can…and you know you can. Two more nights! Do the right thing. Peace, love and soul
The Visitor (and Winston)