Ashland Review

Jenny Graham / Oregon Shakespeare Festival

It’s been a smoky summer in the Pacific Northwest. Wildfires have communities from Eastern Washington to Northern California gasping through days and weeks of poor air quality.

In Ashland, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the “show-must-go-on” mantra of the theater has given way to continuous air quality checks and tough show-time decisions.

Photo Jenny Graham

The last play to open at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this season is one of the very best. “Sweat,” a deeply satisfying new work by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, was commissioned as part of the Festival’s United States History Cycle.

Photo Jenny Graham

“The Happiest Song Plays Last,” now at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Thomas Theatre, is part three of a trilogy by Quiara Alegria Hudes. Last year the Festival presented part two, “Water by the Spoonful,” directed, like this play, by Shishir Kurup.
The author, inspired by her cousin Elliot, the youngest Marine to be deployed to Iraq, has stitched his story to others, creating a colorful quilt of present-day issues.

photo Jenny Graham

Take two plays, one an ancient farce and the other a modern tale of lost love. Accidentally schedule them for a dress rehearsal on the same stage at the same time, and you have the starting point for “Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land,” now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

photo Jenny Graham

“Antony and Cleopatra,” now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, is one of Shakespeare’s most confounding plays. Directors have a hard time deciding what it is. Battles, politics, lust, suicides, a little comedy, and a lot of short scenes alternating between Egypt and Rome.

photo Jenny Graham

“Long Day’s Journey into Night,” Eugene O’Neill’s gut-wrenching family drama, is playing in a superlative production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Thomas Theatre.
When O’Neill fashioned this play based on his miserable youth, he stipulated it could not be published until 25 years after his death, and never be performed. But after he died in 1953 his widow soon had it produced on Broadway, and it earned Pulitzer and Tony Awards.

photo Jenny Graham

Among the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s summer openings, the funniest by far is the world premiere of the musical, “Head Over Heels,” at the Allen Elizabethan Theatre.
With a script by Jeff Whitty, author of the Tony-winning “Avenue Q,” and music and lyrics by the Go-Go’s, the wildly popular female band from the eighties, the much-anticipated show is hilarious, enticing and touching.

Photo by Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

REVIEW OF MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

by Dorothy Velasco

March 31, 2015

There is much to enjoy in the production of “Much Ado About Nothing,” now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Bowmer Theatre. There is just as much to criticize.

Photo by Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

                     

REVIEW OF FINGERSMITH

by Dorothy Velasco

March 24, 2015

“Fingersmith,” the acclaimed Victorian crime novel by Sarah Waters, has been described as “Oliver Twist with a twist.”

In the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s new stage adaptation, we see more twisting than Chubby Checker ever dreamed of.

Photo by Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

REVIEW OF GUYS AND DOLLS

by Dorothy Velasco

March 17, 2015

I’ve got a tip for all you fun-loving guys and dolls. Put your money on the musical, “Guys and Dolls,” now playing in the Bowmer Theatre at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

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