Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review of Babes with Blades' Julius Caesar

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Julius Caesar. This was not any old Julius Caesar. If you are a girl, like I am, you are about to have a really awesome thing happen. This Julius Caesar was ALL GIRLS! (I'm waiting for your applause.) Also, boys, if you are excited, I am happy for you. All these girls get to do Shakespeare together, and this is a show where they can say "Girls can do Shakespeare by themselves." So, here is a little history lesson for you. Shakespeare was alive during the Renaissance period. Babes with Blades is doing the exact opposite of what they did in the Renaissance in England--which was that all the actors were boys! Even the girls' parts were played by boys! I hope you've got that in your minds. It is important if you are a Shakespeare nerd. Julius Caesar is about these friends who want to kill Julius Caesar (Maureen Yasko) because he wants to have more power than he's supposed to. Then it is about how to get out of people being angry at them for killing Julius Caesar.

There was this really funny scene where Casca (Alison Dornheggen) was telling Brutus (Kimberly Logan) and Cassius (Sara Gorsky) what had happened with Caesar and how he kept refusing the crown. One of my favorite parts of this scene was when she said "Oh, I can't tell you anymore" and then she used her fingers to say "Come closer, I'll tell you more." I thought that was really funny because she was doing exactly the opposite of what she said she was going to do. And then she was also afraid of the rain, so she was kind of the scaredy cat character. And Cassius says, "don't be afraid of the rain; just go out in it." And that is when she decides, "Ok, I am going to come and kill Caesar with you."

There is one scene where Caesar's wife, Calphurnia (Aila Peck) says "Caesar, you cannot go to the senate today" because he is going to get killed is what she thinks because of her dream. And then he listened to her and then Caesar said "Yes, I'm going to stay home for you," and then his wife was very happy. And then Metellus Cimber (Kalina McCreery) says, "That dream is a good sign," and that happens to be one of the people who is going to kill Caesar! It shows you that Metellus really really wants to free his country. I think that when Caesar says, "I'm going to do this for you" to his wife and then he says, "No I'm actually not because this other guy says it is actually fine" it made me hate him even more. It makes you think that Calphurnia is like a fortune teller, and I think that is awesome to have a fortune teller wife.

After they have killed Caesar, in the same scene where they have killed Caesar, Mark Antony (Diana Coates) comes in. Mark Antony is on Caesar's side. He comes over to everybody and says, "I will shake your bloody hands and I am not angry with you," even though he is very angry with them. This is how you can tell he is angry with them: because he says he is not going to say anything mean about them in his speech, and then he says a lot of mean stuff and they say they are going to go and burn Brutus's house. He says "This is Caesar's friend Brutus's stab and this is how big it was and you should go kill him." He starts his speech in a nice way and says that "Brutus is an honorable man." But then after Brutus is totally out of earshot, he starts saying all this mean stuff about them. So honorable, a word that usually means very good, has now turned into a word that means, "I hate you very badly and I really want to burn down your house." I think the woman who played Antony was amazing. She did a great job in making me really think at first that she really thought Brutus was an honorable man. And that is the whole trick of things.

There is a scene where Cassius and Brutus have an argument about how Brutus wanted money from Cassius and Cassius didn't want to give it to him. They have a really big fight, but not a fight with swords or guns or poison or any kind of thing that would hurt each other. They are having a mouth fight and then it really shows that they said that they were brothers, and brothers have fights as well. It is hard when your friend wants something and you don't really want to give it to them, even though they're your friend. Brutus has this certain soldier, Lucius (Ashley Fox), and he really likes him, and I think that is why he wants the money--so he can pay Lucius. And for this war he asked Lucius go out and he got badly hurt, and he loved Lucius a lot, even though he was basically his servant.

One of my favorite scenes was the big battle because I am a big battle fan but not a big bloody battle fan and this didn't have any blood in it, so I liked that. I like stabbing in plays but not in real life. I don't really like it when there is fake blood because sometimes fake blood can look very realistic even though it is usually just corn syrup and food coloring. All the fighting, choreographed by Libby Beyreis, was so amazing. All of them (including Catherine Dvorak, Kim Fukawa, and Jennifer Mickelson) were so in time with each other. All of them seemed like they were actually fighting and they were determined to win this battle.

People who would like this show are people who like Shakespeare, Rome, and women fighting. People should go and see this show because it is funny, you will love all the actors, and it has really good fights. Friends, Romans, Countrymen, go and see this play. It is very good!

Photos: Steven Townshend

Monday, March 18, 2013

Review of Kill Shakespeare at Strawdog Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Kill Shakespeare. It was by Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery. And the art was by Andy Belanger. It was directed by Anderson Lawfer. It is projections (designed by Michelle Underwood) of the comic book and people talking behind you. If you just read a comic book you won't hear actors acting out these characters. You will hear either nothing or you would hear yourself playing twenty different characters. It feels more realistic because the projections are bigger than just small pictures in a book and the voices are so amazing that it feels like you are in the story. The story is about Hamlet (Ryan Bosque), Juliet (Nikki Klix), Falstaff (Steve Herson), Romeo (Conor Burke), and Othello (James Anthony Zoccoli) trying to save William Shakespeare (Brian Amidei) from Iago (Caleb Probst), Lady Macbeth (Kate Harris), and Richard III (BF Helman). They want to kill him because they think he is some kind of evil god. Falstaff, Juliet, Hamlet, Romeo and Othello think that he is a good god and he wants to help them because he is their creator.

Something that I think, if you take a kid to this, you should totally remind them about is a guy gets his eyes popped out with a sword. And also if you let them watch King Lear, pause it and then skip 3 minutes. That also has the same contents. This is what happens in Kill Shakespeare. This is the process. Richard III grabs a sword, sticks it into one of his soldier's eyes, pops one out, and you hear a horrible screaming sound coming from behind you. And that I think might be one of the scariest things I have ever seen in my life. I still liked it though because it gave me an idea of what King Lear when I watch that part will be like.

One of the fun things about Kill Shakespeare, if you are a Shakespeare nerd like I am, is that you can look for different Shakespeare quotes. Like I noticed very very many that those characters didn't say in their actual plays. Like one time Hamlet does Juliet's balcony speech "Thou knowst the mask of night is on my face" to Juliet! So it is kind of reversed but not reversed. It is not Romeo to Juliet; it is Hamlet to Juliet. And Hamlet and Romeo both like Juliet. And then when you think about it, you kind of want Hamlet to get married to Juliet. Or maybe, after you think about it two days, you want Romeo to go to Juliet because they've been in love for longer. And it is so hard to choose because you like both of those characters and you've known Hamlet for longer in Kill Shakespeare but you know the story of Romeo and Juliet and how much they wanted to be together.

So here is a little question for you that I would like you to answer for yourself. I have not decided yet what in the world is going on. Why does everybody make out with Lady Macbeth?! In two different scenes Lady Macbeth is talking to somebody while they are making out or is about to make out with them. These two people are Richard III (which I don't understand) and the other, surprisingly, is not Macbeth. It is Iago. I'll tell you my three theories. One is that she's pretty. Two is that she likes them and they fell in love with her after she started making out with them. Three is that she was a wife of somebody who had a lot of money and now she has that money and they want to get that money. I don't think they really actually love her at first sight because she was already married.

The fight scenes were exciting but also terrifying. Like one time somebody who was really drunk just broke a bottle and shoved it into somebody. That was kind of gross. Something cool in the big war scene was when the witches turned against Richard III when they were with him at the very beginning. You could follow what was happening in the battles because the pictures told so much of the story that you really got an idea of what was happening.

There is lots of blood, fighting, and witches. But the witches sometimes could be funny. Like sometimes they said verses from Macbeth, but they added little twists in. Falstaff was another source of humor because he was from a comedy, Merry Wives of Windsor, and also he is very chubby and he says he is a renowned cook even though I'm not sure if he even cooks even good because Hamlet throws up right when he smells the food. And another funny thing was when Falstaff started talking normal to Hamlet when he had almost been killed and he was just talking about different kinds of food and his friends and how pretty Juliet was and how he had a great idea of what they should do (which was dress up like ladies to get into the pub).

People who would like this show are people who like big battles, mismatched speeches, and Hamlet and Juliet being in love. People should see this show because it is funny and scary and it has some of your very favorite characters from Shakespeare.

Photos: Tom McGrath

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Review of Improbable Frequency at Strawdog Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Improbable Frequency and it was directed by Kyle Hamman.  Arthur Riordan and Bell Helicopter wrote the musical.  It was about this guy Mr. Faraday (Michael Dailey) from Britain who decided to do this crossword puzzle and then he was asked to come into a general's office to go and be a codebreaker in the war.  He falls in love with this girl Philomena (Sarah Goeden) who is Irish but the Irish had been taken over by England many many years ago and they are angry about it. Even though they are mostly free there are these parts of Ireland they still can't claim.  So then they don't say at all what side they are on in World War II.  They might be on England and America's side or they could also be on Nazi Germany's side.  This show I think is a fun show because it has a lot of historical text that I didn't know about before and also because it is about spies and I am very interested in spies.  The songs and music are things that also make this show awesome.

There was this song that was called "Don't Patronize the Irish" and in this song there were a bunch of co-workers and they all were talking about how you shouldn't patronize the Irish.  But the funny thing about it is that Betjeman (Jason Grimm), the same person was another coworker, so he just changed his costume on stage: just put on the bowler hat and a coat, and of course he had to get his teddy bear.  As they say, "Don't patronize the Irish," they are patronizing the Irish by saying that they drink too much and dancing a jig, which makes it kind of crazy and silly.  But then when you think about it, you think, "Wait a second, this song makes more sense because they could mean, 'Don't patronize the Irish in front of the Irish.'"

The thing that I thought was funny about Scott Danielson when he was playing a co-worker is that he kept yelling out stuff because the headphones were so good that he couldn't hear himself talk.  So he thought nobody else could!  Then he kept yelling out rhymes about what they were talking about, and then if they changed the subject he would start yelling about that.

There was this one scene where Mr. Faraday came over to Philomena's house and was asking her, "was she the secret agent?"  I thought that scene was interesting because people played furniture.  One person played a chair (Jason Grimm) where sat down on just chair legs that had a board on them and put his arms out like arm rests.  A woman played a lamp (Christina Hall) and wore a lampshade on her head.  Then she would just stand there until Mr. Faraday said "Philomena" and then all the furniture would move.  Like one time the lamp moved all the way across the room.   And also the cupboard (Scott Danielson) opened and closed its doors whenever they said "Philomena."   It was funny because of course furniture don't move.

There was this really really awesome song that was also really really really creepy.  It was sung by Agent Green (Christina Hall) and she sang about betrayal.  Not the play Betrayal, the actual thing that actually hurts people and makes them feel depressed. But she is not depressed; she wasn't the one being betrayed; she is betraying all the guys that people thought she liked.  She is also betraying her country.  It was so catchy, but I am not on her side at all!  I thought her singing was amazing!  I think she should have her own band!  I liked the character at first, but then I hated her.  Not like her acting turned bad, but the character turned awful.

There was a funny element of the show which was where the musicians (Hilary Holbrook, Kristina Lee, Mike Przygoda, and Curtis Williams) interacted with the people in the show.  Like one time Betjeman came over to the musicians and said, "Sorry, got to run" and the girls went "Aw!" because they kind of didn't want him to leave because I think the girls had a crush on Betjeman. It is cool to have the band members in the show because they can make the show more funny because people don't expect that the band members won't just be band members and have nothing to do with the play.  It is kind of a surprise and then it gets you even more interested in what is going on in the show.

So there is this song about Pat, and Pat is like the mystery of the play: Who is Pat?  I'm not going to tell you because that is the main question of the story, like I just told you.  It is not only a song, but it also has a mad scientist laughing.  Schrodinger (Eric Paskey) is also known as the crazy mad scientist. Earlier in the show he sang a song about how in the day he loved science but in the night he hated science and only wanted to go out with the ladies.  And that has to do with the scene because here he starts saying that he likes Agent Green. Philomena was waiting for Mr. Faraday and she was part of the song too. And while they were singing she was part of the song by going "lalalalalalalalala." I liked this because it felt like she was also in the room and she kind of knew what was happening.  I liked how all the lights turned on and it seemed so colorful but also so terrifying.  This was also the scene with my favorite creepy song "Betrayal," which I talked about earlier, which made the whole scene even cooler.

People who would like this show are people who like hilarity, awesome songs, and patronizing the Irish. This is a show I think is good for only some kids; you will have to warn them about some content, like romance that kids shouldn't know about yet, and you will also have to warn them about some swear words.  I think this is perfect for adults and teenagers; I don't they would have any problems.  People should go see this show because it is basically a combination of all different kinds of plays like drama, romance, comedy, mystery, and musicals.  This show is fantastic!

Photos: Chris Ocken