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The Two Noble Kinsmen

by William Shakespeare?

COMPANY : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 4826

SHOWING : April 02, 2016 - April 17, 2016



Director Troy Willis
Jailer/Keeper Tony Brown
Queen/Countryfolk Rachel Frawley
Ensemble Patrick Galletta
Hippolyta Dani Herd
Ensemble Adam Daniel King
Emilia Kathryn Lawson
Ensemble Rivka Levin
Queen/Countryfolk Amanda Lindsey
Artesius/Gerrold/Executioner Vinnie Mascola
Queen/Countryfolk Sarah Beth Moseley
Arcite Matt Nitchie
Palamon Daniel Parvis
Theseus Kevin Roost
Valerius/Prologue/Epilogue/Ensemble Mark W. Schroeder
Bavian/Wooer/Ensemble David Sterritt
Jailers Daughter Amee Vyas
Doctor/Hymen/Taborer Clarke Weigle
Pirithous Trey York
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As Pleasurable As Any
by playgoer
Sunday, April 3, 2016
"The Two Noble Kinsmen" is not pure Shakespeare; John Fletcher collaborated on the script. Still, the Shakespeare Tavern’s production provides as much pleasure as any of Shakespeare’s B-list plays. That’s not because of extraneous, slapped-on comedy, although there are some modern touches (a fist pump, for instance) used to comic effect. It’s not because of exciting staging, since director Troy Willis’ blocking is unrelievedly static in large group scenes. It’s because the storyline and characters are interesting in their own right.

The political underpinnings of the story aren’t terribly clear-cut. The play takes place primarily in the Athens dukedom of Theseus, starting with three widowed queens begging the duke to wreak vengeance on the murderous King Creon of Thebes. The two kinsmen of the title fight on the side of Creon, but there doesn’t seem to be any sort of undying loyalty to their uncle king; they seem perfectly happy to be imprisoned by Theseus, particularly when they get a glimpse of Theseus’ sister-in-law, the beauteous Emilia. It’s the romantic pursuit of Emilia that drives the plot.

The main sub-plot concerns the daughter of the two kinsmen’s jailer, who falls in love with the captive Palamon and then goes mad with lovesickness after she helps him escape. Her predicament provides some of the lighter moments (although with real heart in Amee Vyas’ performance), and there’s also an interlude with countryfolk performing a comically rough-hewn morris dance. There’s comedy too in the relationship of the two kinsmen, which swings from good-humored camaraderie to sworn enmity upon each being instantaneously smitten with Emilia.

The two kinsmen (Daniel Parvis as Palamon and Matt Nitchie as Arcite) play their roles with verve and gusto, Mr. Nitchie in particularly finding comic bits of business to lighten the mood. Kathryn Lawson Woodall, as Emilia, looks the part, has good projection, and conveys emotions well, but has a chirpy contemporaneity of speech patterns that I had trouble accepting as Shakespearean. Kevin Roost, as Theseus, I found to be a little stiff and not commandingly regal at all.

The supporting cast all acquit themselves well. J. Tony Brown gives a sweetly empathetic performance as the jailer. Dani Herd is wonderfully cast as the Amazonian Hippolyta, and is wonderfully costumed too (unlike the rest of the cast, who seem to be garbed in stock costumes dragged out of the tavern closet). The musical interludes feature the pleasing singing voices and the instrumental talents of the majority of the cast.

"The Two Noble Kinsmen" is not often produced, and its emotional impact certainly does not equal that of Shakespeare’s finest tragedies; nor does its comedy rise to the heights of Shakespeare’s finest. Still, this production is an enjoyable and briskly paced (although long) entertainment of which director Troy Willis can be proud. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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