Playwrights Kevin Kling, Aaron Gabriel, and Jeffrey Haas have managed to shove a lot of Shakespearean characters and plots into 80 minutes. Not being a Shakespeare scholar, I'm sure I missed many of the references, but I recognized bits from some of his most famous plays Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, and more. The premise of the play is that the acting troupe from Midsummer, led by aspiring playwright Billy Quiverstick (Kevin Kling), is in fear for their lives and fleeing to the new world known as Canada (Ca-NA-da). Queen Elizabeth has been told that a fool is plotting to assassinate her, so she declares that all fools must be rounded up and killed, hence the need to flee. The mechanicals travel to Denmark, Venice, Illyria, Athens, and other locations of Shakespeare's plays, encountering various characters along the way.
A few highlights from the show:
- The script is full of clever lines and references to both Shakespeare and pop culture.
- Director Aaron Gabriel also composed some original Renaissance era music, some recorded and some played live.
- Choreographer Colette Illarde (who also appears as Titania and others) has created some charming group dance numbers.
- Some recognizable faces from other local theater companies (Mixed Precipitation's Scotty Reynolds, Transatlantic Love Affair's Heather Bunch) have as much fun playing their roles as they do guiding their co-stars in theirs.
- Joel Sass has designed the coolest and most authentic playground castle ever, a raised stage with two towers and various doors and windows, well utilized by the cast.
- Kathy Kohl's colorful and fun costumes run the gamut from fool to royal.
At times I forgot, or couldn't tell, which were the professional theater artists and which were the artists with disabilities, and I think that's the point. They (and we the audience) are all in it together, playing, entertaining, making art.
The charming and playful What Fools These Mortals Be continues through December 17 at the Lab Theater (discount tickets available on Goldstar). And consider supporting Interact's work by attending their 20th Anniversary Gala on November 30, also at the Lab.