Ashland Theater Review

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

What better place to see “The Book of Will” than at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Allen Elizabethan Theatre?

If you’ve seen too many high school productions of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!,” you may think it’s a tired old horse. The glorious production at Ashland’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival will change your mind.

Jenny Graham / Oregon Shakespeare Festival

“Sense and Sensibility,” now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, certainly pleases the high school students who travel to Ashland for a taste of live theater.

Jenny Graham / Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Shakespeare’s “Othello,” now playing in a well nuanced production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, is always painful to watch. The Moor is a brilliant admiral who succeeds in protecting Venice from the Ottomans. But, like the hero of a Greek tragedy, his fatal flaw, being born black, guarantees his downfall.

Jenny Graham / Oregon Shakespeare Festival

“Oh for a muse of fire.” Reminiscent of Homer’s Iliad, so begins “Henry V” at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. As directed by Rosa Joshi, this compelling and inventively stylized production is a fine example of ensemble work.

Jenny Graham / Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Hola, mis amigos! I just saw a play by Karen Zacarias at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival called “Destiny of Desire,” and it’s more fun than a Mexican telenovela. Well, it is a telenovela, a Latin-style soap opera, but it’s in English, with added soundbites about dating and other vital social issues.

Dorothy Velasco reviews the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Dorothy Velasco reviews Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production of Hannah and the Dread Gazebo, the first play by Jiehae Park.

Dorothy Velasco reviews Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production of UniSon, a musical based on the poetry of August Wilson.

Dorothy Velasco reviews the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production of The Odyssey, adapted for the stage by Mary Zimmerman.

Photo by Jenny Graham

Guilt, anger, revenge. Riotous hilarity, mortal enemies, Falstaff bigger than life, Prince Hal in a hoody. Yes, it’s “Henry IV, Part One” at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s intimate Thomas Theatre, to be followed in the summer by “Part Two.”

As directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, Shakespeare’s great history play, peppered with surprises, is staged in the round and set in modern times. We can almost reach out and touch the actors, and the actors certainly touch us with their electrifying emotions.

Photo by Jenny Graham

In “Mojada, A Medea in Los Angeles,” playwright Luis Alfaro manages an impressive feat, melding a Greek tragedy with a heartbreaking story of Mexican immigrants.

Now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, with sensitive direction by Juliette Carrillo, this play follows the life of Medea, a young indigenous woman from Michoacán now residing in Los Angeles with her beloved Jason, pronounced Ha-sohn, their son Acan, and Tita, an old family friend. All are mojados, wetbacks, illegal.

Photo by Jenny Graham

When I studied Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” in high school it seemed like ancient history having nothing to do with me. Well, now it’s ancient history that relates perfectly to our times.