Sunday, November 3, 2013

Review of King John at Linchpin Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called King John. It was written by William Shakespeare and directed by David Fehr. I really like Shakespeare. I have been listening to his plays since I was an infant and, well, I just really like his style of writing in that he writes a lot different kinds of plays and he isn't just attached to one kind. He writes comedies; he writes dramas; he writes tragedies; he writes romances and all those great kinds of plays. King John is a history with drama and tragedy moments. I never saw King John before and I think that this one is probably my least favorite except for Taming of the Shrew. I did not like Taming of the Shrew because it was so sexist. King John just didn't really go into my brain; it was kind of more confusing than some of Shakespeare's other plays. Like Richard III is also a history but less of a tricky story. I think it should be performed, but if they made it less long, then it would be a much better play.

I had a problem with how the production wasn't really trusting Shakespeare. They didn't think their audience would understand what the actors meant, so they showed it in the most simple way possible. At the beginning of the play, there are these two brothers Philip the Bastard (David Fehr) and Robert Falconbridge (Nathan Thompson) that come in, and Robert has this chart. The chart shows us how he is the heir to his mother's land, but we already know because that is what he is telling us at that moment. I don't think they needed to change the set so much either. In between scenes there would be a long pause with noise and more noise while they were moving the set pointlessly. Shakespeare had like one set for the entire play, so his characters tell you where they are basically. Like in Much Ado about Nothing, in the party scene, everyone knows they are at a party because Leonato says, "The revelers are entering." I didn't really like it how the lords flipped the cuffs from red to blue or blue to red to show that they were changing sides of what team they are for the army. I didn't really like that because you knew that they were changing sides because they said that they were changing sides.

At the end they invited a person up on stage to be the new king, which made it seem like a show for 4 year olds. I didn't really think that that was a good idea. I would have liked an actual actor to be on stage to play his son. I would have liked that better because you would feel that he was part of the story and not a person who came out of the audience. They were trying to say that "you'll do" to be a king, but the thing is they kind of forgot about the character of his son. Someone in the audience, even if they are a great actor, won't be able to know what he is supposed to do. I found out by looking at the original script that Prince Henry is actually supposed to have some lines in that scene. Instead the people who did the adaptation gave them to another person which I think was not such a good idea because we want know who Prince Henry is.

Some of the acting I don't think was really to my taste. It was bland but sometimes they were overacting. It is a problem because being bland means that you are not putting any feeling into your role. So then when you are supposed to have a big feeling you give that feeling but a little bit too much. Some of the actors sometimes didn't seem to be thinking about the play but just reciting the lines.

I really liked the actor who played Hubert (A.J. Miller). I really liked him because he wasn't bland and he wasn't overacting. I really liked how he was always in the play. By "in the play," I mean that you see that he is really feeling the character. He was in the most scary scene where he is about to put Arthur's (Janeane Bowlware's) eyes out, and he was really good at doing that. I felt really scared for Arthur and didn't know if he would put his eyes out, or did he love him too much? And when he was about to put his eyes out, he started to cry. That told me that he didn't really want to do this, but he had to. But he didn't actually do it in the end.

The scene where Lady Constance (Kelly Lynn Hogan) was going crazy was a really cool scene. Every Shakespeare play should have a good scene where somebody is going crazy! Like in Hamlet, Ophelia is going insane. In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth goes bonkers; she is trying to wash off the "blood" from killing all those people. Lady Constance is going crazy because she thinks that her little kid is going to be killed in jail. I really liked how when she was going crazy, she was so sad and it was really emotional. I really thought that it was moving that she was so wrecked. She says she is not going crazy, it is just that she is not going to see her boy for a long time. But I think that she is still going crazy.

It was scary when Arthur was about to jump off the wall. He was saying all of these things like, "I hope I won't die," and you basically know that he's going to die, so that makes it even more sad. You don't want him to die. You don't want King John to be king; you want Arthur to be king. You don't want King John to be King because he is not a good king. He is not a good king because he makes a lot of bad decisions, he wants to kill kids so he can stay king, and he also is not very nice to anybody at all, not even very much to his mother Elinor (Shawna Tucker).

People who would like this show are people who like women going crazy, scary moments where kids are about to jump off of walls, and who want to see King John and have never heard of it. This production wasn't really to my liking, but some of the scenes were very nicely written and I think that some people might like it.

Photo Credit: Colleen Iudice

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