Who, precisely, is the title character in Brave Spirits Theatre’s production of The Changeling, by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley, is left open to interpretation. The text of the play speculates on the question but does not provide a definitive answer. Director Charlene V. Smith takes that tone of ambiguity and plays with it brilliantly in her approach to the script. She takes a late-Renaissance play that features violence, misogyny, and sexual assault as major plot elements,
If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly. With expedience and precision one can readily say 4615 Theatre Company’s production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth were done both well and quickly. Directed by Jordan Friend, this intimate production unfolds in the laps of the audience, shaking tremors of terror and raw Shakespearean storytelling into the minds of 30 individuals at a time, ensuring that they shall burn for dreams restlessly and indeed sleep no more.
For a world turned upside down as 2018, Director Charlene V. Smith has crafted a riveting, provocative, explosive Coriolanus. “Are we even capable of not harming ourselves?” she asks in the director’s notes, echoing Tori Boutin as citizen of Rome: “We willingly consented to his banishment, yet it was against our will.”
Smith’s Rome is not a pinnacle of civilization. It’s violent and dirty, its citizens easily provoked to engage every whim.
Charlene V. Smith bookends Doctor Faustus with two magnificent, and very different, speeches. She begins with arrogance borne of intelligence, full of both wit and ennui, seeking greener pastures beyond this world. She ends broken, despairing, hopeless, crying out to heaven and hell. Her performance as Joan Faustus is insightful and incisive, precise and passionate.
The bridge between the two is Hollis Evey as Mephistopheles, who grants Faustus her every worldly wish in exchange for the immortal soul that Joan doesn’t believe she has.
The king is coming! We have seen the best of our times! Fitting lines of flattery, from the Bard’s tragedy bent around such a concept, as Washington DC area acting legend Rick Foucheux makes his final journey onto the boards. Announcing his retirement from acting in theatre, Foucheux goes out with a maddening bang in Avant Bard’s King Lear. Directed by Tom Prewitt, this rich and hearty version of the mad king’s drama is modernized yet classic,
Let’s face it: Parma is a nasty, nasty place. It’s got people cheating on their spouses, and plots of revenge, even before it gets all incesty. Which, of course, it does, this being part of Brave Spirits’ Incest Rep, along with A King and No King, by Beaumont and Fletcher. Those Jacobeans liked their plays dark, and that’s perfect to help Brave Spirits’ pledge of “Verse and Violence”.
The most available bachelorette in Parma is the beautiful Annabella,
Jessica Lefkow is, indeed, “fire and air” in Brave Spirits Theatre’s brilliant, bold production of Antony and Cleopatra. She is riveting every moment she is on stage, evincing the kind of charisma that the fabled Egyptian queen used to enthrall two great Roman generals. One was Julius Caesar, who died in the eponymous play. The other is Mark Antony, played with passion by Joe Carlson. His spirit draws Cleopatra so powerfully to him,
Brave Spirits’ bold, ambitious, brilliant Henri IV continues its exploration of gender with Part II. Shakespeare often sadly limited the roles that women can play, both in their interactions with men and with each other. Brave Spirits asks, why can’t a woman be a Chief Justice or a drunken sot, a warrior or a tailor? Where Shakespeare occasionally explores ways for women to be women, Brave Spirits explores ways for women to be people,