Monday, November 8, 2010

Shakespeare's Villains a devilishly clever play!

As I wrote Friday in my last entry, one of the anticipated arts events this month was the opening Saturday evening of Steven Berkoff's Shakespeare's Villains at the Sullivan Mahoney Courthouse Theatre in downtown St. Catharines. It served as the season opener for Lydesfarne Theatre Projects and was, in fact, the Canadian premiere of the one-man tour de force.

Artistic Director Kelly Daniels showed a certain amount of daring in being the first to present Berkoff's play in Canada, which up to now he had only performed himself. But the gamble has payed off nicely, with huge applause Saturday evening for her husband, actor Ric Reid in the Berkoff role. Ric, I have long felt, is one of those underestimated Canadian actors who just goes about his work and continues to impress quietly. All that may change after this play, as Reid romps through a myriad of Shakespeare's characters, some you would expect to be villainous and others not so much, with almost lightning speed.

Oh sure, there was a line or two needing prompts at the opening (was it intentional?) but consider all the lines he has to remember. And he's carrying the whole darned thing himself! I think it was a pretty impressive performance you would do well to see before it closes November 21st.

My far better half was almost reluctant to go with me, since sitting through a Shakespeare play is about as pleasant as a root canal while suffering from a migraine, but I encouraged her to come, as I had attended the Media Day preview the week before and knew she would enjoy it. She not only enjoyed it, she was laughing even more than I was at the witty lines Berkoff has come up with.

As Reid himself has said, this is the role of a lifetime, and I believe him. Although only 85 minutes in length with no intermission, the play packs a lot of sharp dialogue into that time frame and more characters than you can imagine, both male and female. R.J. Conn has provided a simple, yet effective stage design, and director Kelly Daniels successfully manages to keep Reid reigned in while at the same time giving him room to breathe.

Lydesfarne Theatre Projects has been going from strength to strength the last couple of seasons at the Sullivan Mahoney Courthouse Theatre, and this new production kicks off a very intriguing season.

Do yourself a favour and catch the show before it closes November 21st. Performances are Wednesday to Sunday this week and next, and tickets are very affordable: general admission is $ 25 with students and seniors paying only $ 15. Call the boxoffice at 905-938-1222.

November 8th, 2010.

1 comment:

Celine said...

Agreement all around! Just a note that it's "Lyndesfarne".