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Shakespeare Ensemble experiments in scene night



MIT Shakespeare Ensemble.

34-101, May 10-12.


AS BRECHT WYATT ISBELL '90 announced to the audience before the production of the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble's Shakespeare Never Said That! scene nights are an opportunity for the actors and directors to experiment. He added that in this spring's evening, each of the nine scenes were totally unlike the others. Isbell's claim proved to be true as the Shakespeare Ensemble's choice of scenes provided something for everyone.

Only three of the nine scenes were actually from Shakespearean works. Of these, I particularly enjoyed Act II, scene v from Romeo and Juliet, directed by Andrew Borthwick-Leslie, and Act I, scene iii from Richard III, directed by Kermit Dunkleberg. Debbie Wells '92 was a very convincing Juliet: Her performance and interaction with the Nurse (Bronwyn Campbell G) was comfortable and true to life as Juliet expecting news of her lover, Romeo.

Both actors in the Richard III scene were excellent. Lindasusan Ulrich '91's and Charles Roburn '91's portrayals of Anne and the yet-to-be-King Richard were magnificent. The other Shakespearean scene, taken from Othello, was rather dry, even though Greg Swieringa '91 gave a thrilling performance as the main character; his monologue at the end of Act III, Scene iii was excellent.

The second scene presented, from As Is by William Hoffman, was one of the best of the evening. Swieringa and Chris Crowley G play Rich and Saul, two estranged lovers who are slowly realizing the effect of AIDS on their lives. The actors' portrayals, especially Crowley's, of homosexual men getting a "divorce," was touching.

Ulrich's direction of the opening scene of Beyond Therapy by Christopher Durang made this scene very enjoyable. Imtiyaz Hussein '91 and Wells do a wonderful job in making this scene -- in which the two, as Bruce and Prudence, meet after contacting each other through a personals ad -- very humorous.

An interesting switch was provided by The Wrong Man, a short play written by Laura Harrington. Isbell and Maria Cheryl S. Casquejo '91 play John and Nadia, who encounter each other at a party, but refuse to go through the regular formalities of meeting. Instead, they make up a situation in which they have met before and take turns in adding to this story. The play is very sensual, and the two actors are effective in sending out this emotion to the audience.

Harry Teplitz '91 is a good Felix under Joe Vanderway '90's direction of a scene from Neil Simon's The Odd Couple. Crowley's portrayal of Oscar, however, was rather disappointing.

Only two of the nine scenes were not up to the par of the others: Act I from The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde and Act III of The Hunted by Eugene O'Neill. In both of these, the actors seemed stiff and not as comfortable in character as in the other scenes. Hussein's and Casquejo's performances in The Hunted seemed rushed and unenthusiastic.

On the whole, the Shakespeare Ensemble's performance of these nine scenes was truly enjoyable, and thoroughly challenged and exhibited their acting abilities. Judging from the variety of scenes presented in this scene night, the ensemble is a group of extremely talented actors and actresses.