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More than meets the eye

MIT Shakespeare Ensemble, 10-250, Feb. 28, March 1 & 2.

The Shakespeare Ensemble performed scenes from plays ranging from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar to Michael Christopher's The Shadow Box, showing that enlightened performance can overcome any limitations imposed by the absence of sets, lights, or technical effects. Room 10-250 lacks the proper atmosphere for a theatrical performance, but that did not stop me from enjoying myself.

Seeing Cassius wear a sports jacket during a scene from Julius Caesar is at first a bit unnerving, but animated action soon makes the jacket transparent and exposes the heart of the character.

The acting -- directed by students in contrast to the Ensemble's professionally-guided major productions -- was mostly entertaining, and at times moving. Stephen Ng's portrayal of Merrick, The Elephant Man, was compelling, and demonstrated his ability to play a character down-to-earth on the surface, but wrought with tragedy underneath.

Andrew Borthwick-Leslie '84 -- who also directed one of the scenes -- was convincing, both as Cyrano de Bergerac and as a short-tempered idealistic intern in a scene from The Death of Bessie Smith. My only complaint is that Josh Lubarr's performances lacked the enthusiasm shown by the rest of the company.

The Ensemble demands a lot of time -- and many members double with administrative as well as performance duties. Given this enthusiasm and talent, I hope the Ensemble gets a more exciting space to perform in next time -- it is a shame that MIT has inadequate theatre facilities, given the great interest in the performing arts on this campus; but even if the Shakespeare Ensemble is back in 10-250, their talent can be expected to create images in the mind to transcend any shortage of stimuli for the eye.

Stephen P. Berczuk->