Speaking the speeches trippingly on the tongue

A Shakespearean cascade


Amid solemn, unfurnished rooms of Joslyn Castle, voices are raised and colorfully dressed bodies swirl, evoking words, ideas and drama that Shakespeare wrote. Here Brigit Saint Brigit Theatre Company seeks to personify many such dimensions and characters. Scott Kurz has taken charge of the complexities by stitching together multiple fabrics of famed plays into what he calls Tyger’s Hart (a title not explained in the program book but clarified at a company website: http://www.bsbtheatre.com/#!blank/cu29t.)

Kurz himself takes several principal performing roles and, as Romeo, Hamlet and Henry V, proves perceptive, intelligent and convincing, alternating among all three with distinctive and special personalities.

Also Anna Jordan, as Juliet, Ophelia and the Henry V’s bride-to-be Catherine, gives genuine credibility to them while Jackson Cottrell fits into Puck’s wings believably. Equally, four others in their time play many parts; those BSB regulars deliver the texts with sturdy energy and skill, but don’t appear able to diversify enough to come across as different people.

Aye, there’s the rub. For Kurz’s ostensible play most resembles a patchwork of good scenes and speeches creating a major task for the actors, amid all the action, shifting back and forth, speaking multiple complex lines while trying as well to portray the characters’ special qualities.

This project most resembles an attempt to go beyond simple staged reading of Shakespeare scripts in hand, wherein the marvelous words are the focus. Instead, Tyger’s Hart switches emphasis, playing the scenes for themselves, partly costumed, with leaps and bounds, seeking to convey the emotions more than the verbal magic of the texts. In that regard, Kurz and BSB Director Cathy M.W. Kurz have staged everything with vivid imagination within the fascinating small frame of the Castle’s Music Room

There are extensive excerpts from Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Hamlet with a substantial touch of Henry V in the night.  Along the way, as elements from other plays interweave, two further pairs of lovers are evoked: Beatrice and Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing as well as Taming of the Shrew’s Kate and Petruchio, alternate versions of wooing interspersed with elements from Romeo and Juliet. They offer contrast, but deeper meaning seems elusive.

Other potentially recognizable inserted elements come from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar, As You Like It and Antony and Cleopatra. Scott Kurz’ s program notes also identify King Lear, Richard III and Henry VI part 1 as sources. This means 13 plays in all. Dwelling on fewer might have created better focus. An audience member thoroughly versed in Shakespeare may recognize much or all of this. That might be fun.

Describing his own effort as a “bold and original work” is an ambition which should be made of sterner stuff. Indeed, as he says, this is about “power, corruption, meddling in supernatural forces, madness, despair and love.” Right. Those and more are all within what’s contained herein. Although Kurz may have found deeper, more meaningful connections in this compendium of memorable fragments, this doesn’t seem to add up to a cohesive whole.

Oh, what a tangled web he weaves.  

Tyger’s Hart runs to May 21, Joslyn Castle, 3902 Davenport St. Tues. (10): 8 p.m. Weds. (11), Thurs. (19), Fri. (13, 20) ,Sat. (21) 7:30 p.m. 8 p.m. Tickets: $20-$25 www.bsbtheatre.com


Category: Art, Literary
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