Thursday, September 25, 2014

This North Coast Weekend

This is the final weekend for Equivocation at Redwood Curtain.  The show has been selling out so management strongly recommends reservations. 443-7688,

Also continuing: I Hate Hamlet at North Coast Rep.  Review and additional notes in posts below.

TV or Not TV? I Hate Hamlet at NCRT

Another version of this review has appeared in the North Coast Journal.  There are additional notes below.

Several blocks from where a royal henchman cleverly castigates Shakespeare to his face in Redwood Curtain’s Equivocation, some contemporary Americans (and a distinguished ghost) are very conflicted about the Bard in the 1991 comedy I Hate Hamlet, now onstage at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Eureka.

 After the TV series that made him famous was cancelled, Andrew Rally (played by Evan Needham) has been rediscovering himself as an actor in New York. His agent (Gloria Montgomery) encouraged him to audition for the title role in a Shakespeare in Central Park production of Hamlet, and he is cast.

 His romantic and virginal new girlfriend (Jennifer Trustem) swoons for the Shakespearian hero she wants him to be. But he immediately has second thoughts, especially after his Hollywood director (Anders Carlson) brings him a deal for a network series about a crusading young teacher in an inner city school who also has superpowers (he can fly, “but only about ten feet up. See, we’re keeping it real.”)

 All the action transpires in a vintage Manhattan apartment that Rally’s real estate agent (Kristen Collins) has found for him. It just happens to be the former abode of actor John Barrymore, whose 1920s Hamlet became legendary. A seance summons Barrymore from the beyond to advise Rally on his own portrayal of the conflicted Melancholy Dane.

 Should he or shouldn’t he? To be or not to be? TV or not TV? Does he hate Hamlet, or himself?

 I Hate Hamlet is a comedy by Paul Rudnick, rich in jokes but with a bit more substance than it pretends to have. It is also awkwardly constructed, especially at the start. With all the set-up, exposition and unfamiliar New York and German accents, the first act at NCRT wobbled gamely forward until Anders Carlson as the irrepressible Hollywood director infused the stage with comic energy. The character certainly provides it, with lines like: “Am I like the most self-obsessed person you’ve ever met? My answer? Yes.”

Carlson's character is also very funny on the supposed obsolescence of the stage.  After theatre and movies came television, he says.  "That's like, art perfected...I mean, when I go to the theatre I sit there and most of the time I'm thinking, which one is my armrest?"

The first act climaxes with a sword fight between the reluctant Rally and the buoyant Barrymore (choreographed by Jasper Anderton) that sparkles like the champagne Barrymore is simultaneously imbibing. Christian Litten is a lithe and athletic Barrymore, and even looks like the actor, especially in Laura Rhinehart’s costume that reproduces Barrymore’s Hamlet togs as seen in old photos.

 Most of what the play says about Barrymore is historically accurate and relevant to Rally’s dilemma. Barrymore was the theatrical equivalent of a sitcom actor until he triumphed as Hamlet on Broadway and perhaps more impressively, in London. Then he left for Hollywood.

 Director David Moore and cast seem to have elected to do a fairly subdued version of this sometimes raucously produced play. That choice perhaps allows for more human feeling in the Barrymore-Rally scenes in the second act—in any case, this is where Needham and Litten especially excel. Gloria Montgomery also delivers a moving set piece in Act II.

 On opening night some comic timing and delivery wasn’t yet sharp, a not uncommon occurrence. There seems to be more potential in the script for vocalizing (and projecting) some lusciously comic lines. Fortunately there are three more weekends in the run to discover such opportunities and possibly make a funny show funnier.

 Calder Johnson is scenic designer, Telfer Reynolds designed lighting, Michael Thomas the sound, Laura Rhinehart properties as well as costumes. I Hate Hamlet is performed weekends at NCRT through October 11. 442-6278, 

[Aside]: In portraying a stage legend, I Hate Hamlet's 1991 Broadway production itself became legendary. The brilliant English actor (and former Hamlet) Nichol Williamson was increasingly erratic in his performance as Barrymore. In the sword fight one evening, he swatted costar Evan Handler in the back. Handler immediately exited the stage and kept on going, out of the theatre and out of the play forever.

I Hate Hamlet: Additional Notes

Why John Barrymore?  Why is he the Hamlet actor that returns from the beyond to counsel our TV-star protagonist in I Hate Hamlet?  After all, there have been more recent and therefore more familiar Hamlets: Laurence Olivier certainly was identified with the role, while Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole famously played it.

A short answer is that it was John Barrymore's former Manhattan apartment that playwright Paul Rudnick was shown (some online articles say that Rudnick lived there, but he doesn't make that assertion in his script notes.)  This coincidence sparked the writing of the play.

But there are meaningful parallels between Barrymore and our protagonist as well.  First, however, who was John Barrymore?

Perhaps even in 1991 it was too early to mention that John Barrymore is Drew Barrymore's grandfather.  The first generation of Barrymore actors were Georgiana and Maurice Barrymore (Drew's great grandparents.)  The next and most legendary generation was composed of the siblings Lionel, Ethel and John.  They all are best known now for their movie performances, but they began on the stage.

  Ethel was the first to become a star in 1901, in the unlikely Broadway show Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines by an early Broadway playwright I've been reading a lot about lately, Clyde Fitch (His play Her Own Way was the first ever done by Humboldt State, and is being restaged as a radio-style drama by HSU Theatre, Film & Dance on October 3 and 4.)

Captain Jinks was also John Barrymore's first Broadway appearance. As I Hate Hamlet says, he started with mostly light comedy, but he did try more serious drama before Hamlet, including a role in Ibsen's A Doll's House (again with sister Ethel) and more individually in an adaptation of a Tolstoy play,confusingly retitled Redemption (since that was the title of a different Tolstoy novel.)  He also did an historical drama called The Jest with his brother Lionel--and this made Lionel a star.

John Barrymore warmed up his Shakespeare with voice lessons and a reputedly very uneven Richard III.  But then in 1922 came his triumphant Hamlet.  His erratic behavior and lack of concentration and consistency were on hold for awhile.  He prepared for Hamlet "meticulously," writes famed critic and theatre historian Brooks Atkinson.  The result: "John Barrymore played a Hamlet that most people ranked with Edwin Booth's, by tradition considered the greatest."

Another critic wrote that Barrymore had revolutionized Shakespearian acting by ending the "school of recitation."  Barrymore's performance was "alive with vitality and genius--a great, beautiful, rare Hamlet--understandable and coherent."

John Gielgud, whose own Hamlet would eventually break Barrymore's Broadway record for performances, saw the Barrymore performance and "admired it very much," noting that he had "a wonderful edge and a demonic sense of humour...Of all the actors in my time I felt he must be the nearest to Irving, with the same kind of extravagance and flowery, sinister power."

Barrymore's Hamlet is also notable for his interpretation of Hamlet's relationship with his mother as Oedipal.  This Freudian approach was adopted wholesale by Olivier, especially in his movie version of Hamlet, which he directed. (Gielgud also mentions that Barrymore "cut the play outrageously" so he could extend the scene between Hamlet and his mother that exemplified this approach.)

A few years later Barrymore took his Hamlet to London, and triumphed again.  He then gave up the Broadway stage, moved to Hollywood and made movies, where  he fully earned his reputation for womanizing and especially for drinking (apparently emphasized more in the original I Hate Hamlet Broadway production than at NCRT.)

But it is not true, as stated in I Hate Hamlet, that he never returned to the stage.  He made one last Broadway starring appearance.  In a reputedly mediocre play (My Dear Children) he gave "a first-rate performance," Atkinson writes.  "There was a kind of admirable, if perverse gallantry about this final fling at the stage..." (Atkinson saw this play himself, and may have seen Barrymore's Hamlet.)  This play ran for four months in 1940.  John Barrymore died in 1942.

So the parallels between Barrymore and Andrew Rally, both obvious and subtle, underlie this "boulevard comedy" as Rudnick describes it.  Rally comes from commercial TV but at least part of him longs for artistic challenge and expression (so he auditioned five times for this Hamlet.)  Barrymore came from commercial theatre and was uneducated and untrained for classical roles, yet he pursued such roles and worked hard to excel in them.  Barrymore also knew the temptations of Hollywood--in his case, the movies.

They are both conflicted.  And of course they are talking about the most famously conflicted character in classical drama: Hamlet.

The contrasts between Rally and Barrymore--notably involving women and drink--also figure in the comedy, but the relationship they build in the second act is based on these common threads, as well as one more: the brotherhood of Hamlets.

Playing Hamlet is a kind of rite of passage for actors (which is partly why there is a new Hamlet somewhere in England almost continuously.)  Especially for a young actor it is the most complex role, offering the most challenge and the most breadth of opportunity for interpretation.  (Lear is the equivalent for older actors.)
David Warner Hamlet 1965

There is a kind of brotherhood established by the actors (a few of them women) who have played Hamlet, and a feeling established in theatre lore that after playing Hamlet an actor is never the same.  You get some sense of this in the conversation that David Tennant has with other Hamlets like Jude Law and David Warner  in the BBC's "Shakespeare Uncovered" series, which is viewable on YouTube.  I remember Tennant talking about this brotherhood of Hamlets and the mystique of the role in an interview, which I can no longer find.

A personal note: I don't recall actually meeting Paul Rudnick when we were both writing for Esquire, but I heard about him from mutual friends and editors.  The word was that he was very funny, and very New York.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

This North Coast Weekend

North Coast Repertory Theatre opens Paul Rudnick's comedy I Hate Hamlet with its actors benefit night on Thursday, September 18.  A successful TV actor must choose between playing Hamlet and starting a new TV show, while being visited by the ghost of legendary Shakespearian actor John Barrymore.  Directed by David Moore, it features Christian Litten, Evan Needham, Anders Carlson, Gloria Montgomery, Jennifer Trustem and Kristen Collins. Performances continue Friday and Saturday evenings through Oct. 11.  442-6278,

Also opening September 18 is Beneath the Soulskin at Dell’Arte-- a work-in-progress written and performed by Dell’Arte graduate Robin Shaw and her Australian company, directed by Michael Fields.“It’s about the breaking of familial ties to the past, standing at the precipice of choice and choosing to leap,” Shaw said. "It's quite a moving, devised piece," said director Fields. "It's a work in progress which means it has that edge to it."  Admission is pay what you can. The show runs one weekend: Sept. 18-20 at 8 p.m. in the Carlo Theatre. 668-5663,

Equivocation continues at Redwood Curtain Thursday through Saturday evenings, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.  Review and much more in posts below.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

An Unequivocal Success at Redwood Curtain

David Hamilton and Ambar Cuevas at Redwood Curtain
It is 1606 and the chief minister to the new English King (James I) commissions the most popular playwright of the day to write a play about the notorious Gunpowder Plot that sought to blow up the Parliament building while the king and his family were there. That playwright is William “Shagspeare”--one of several ways Shakespeare’s name was spelled by his contemporaries. The English weren’t big on consistent spelling at the time.

 So begins Equivocation, now on stage at Redwood Curtain in Eureka. It is a comedy and a political whodunit, told in contemporary language by a playwright who also wrote an episode of TV’s political potboiler “House of Cards,” but it's set in the early 17th century: Shakespeare In Love meets All the President’s Men.

Shakespeare’s sleuthing begins with a motive unknown to Woodward and Bernstein, or even Sherlock Holmes. He’s worried that the official version of events just won’t make a good play. For instance, the gentlemen conspirators were supposed to have dug a tunnel. How could they? It needed supports, and pumps to keep the river out. And what did they do with the dirt? “There will be 700 penny-a-place standees at every performance, all of whom make their living with their hands,” Shakespeare says. “And if there’s anything these groundlings will want to know about, it’s the dirt.”

 But the bigger dramatic problem is that the plot was foiled, so the explosion didn’t happen. What was good for the King is bad for Shakespeare, because the play has no ending.

 The actors of the company are very funny as they grapple with these problems (as well as Shakespeare’s latest confusing play about a crazy King Lear. “If we could get through his comedies-don’t-have-to-be-funny period,” lead actor Richard Burbage reassures the company, “we can get through whatever this is.”)

 In search of theatrical reality Shakespeare speaks with two of the alleged conspirators, and the play moves into the darkness of the time: political intrigue involving religion and the state, with the King’s chief minister and spymaster, Robert Cecil at its center. Shakespeare begins to wonder who profits from the Gunpowder Plot, and why.

 Equivocation is by Bill Cain, a Jesuit priest and writer who started a Shakespeare company in Boston. Another Jesuit (Henry Garnet) features prominently in the story, especially in regard to the concept of “equivocation” he championed: telling the truth, but indirectly. The moral questions raised by equivocation turn out to have significance as well for Shakespeare (who wants to "tell the truth but not get caught at it")  and his plays.

 Eventually Shakespeare completes a play, though not exactly the one commissioned, and it is the occasion for more mesmerizing action, including as a sword fight. Prior knowledge of Shakespeare and these times aren’t required, but they’ll add to the appreciation.

 Even more than usual for Redwood Curtain, the acting is excellent. This time the clarity and conviction of the acting are elevated as the actors meet the challenges of a witty, theatrical and multi-layered script. They respond with performances that rank among their best, at least in my experience.

 David Hamilton plays Shakespeare through the moods of his journey, revealing his humanity. Gary Sommers as Burbage and others, especially the Jesuit Garnet, is precise and evocative. James Hitchcock navigates both the wily Robert Cecil and Nate, the most grounded of the players, with economy and force.  Dimitry Tokarsky likewise inhabits his roles with an assurance we share. As both Richard Sharpe (the youngest player) and King James, Cody Miranda has a startling moment playing a scene between the two. With his posture and his eyes, he conveys the cruelty hidden in the cocksure King.

 The play also involves the central role of family, especially the relationship of Shakespeare and his daughter, Judith, whose cynical skepticism is eventually transformed. Ambar Cuevas plays all those colors well, but her performance in the closing scene is exceptionally moving.

 The other elements of this production are equally admirable: the elegant and spacious set by Ray Gutierrez, dramatic lighting by Michael Burkhart, pleasing costumes by Jenneveve Hood, among important others. Director Catherine L. Brown knits all these elements together into a convincing and entertaining world. Though not perfect in preview, this show is an unequivocal success.

This is an unusually rich and thematically ambitious play, and one that takes chances.  After all, it is a play about a play that doesn't get written about an event that doesn't take place. It even violates Shakespeare's rules (histories end in battle, comedies in marriage, tragedies in death): it is a history and a comedy that ends in death.

 To mention more about it would involve too much space and too many spoilers for an opening review, so I’ll suggest some of its textures in the notes below, especially for those who see it. But playgoers should be prepared for some enacted and mostly suggested violence, including torture. (It’s no coincidence that this play was written during the Bush administration.)

 Craig Benson is the fight choreographer, Brandi Lacy the dialect coach, and various effects are engineered by Jared Sorenson, Jillian Park and Hanah Toyoda. Christopher Joe is sound designer, Shea King assistant director and dramaturg. Equivocation is on stage at Redwood Curtain weekends through September 27. 443-7688,

Equivocation: Notes and Spoilers

yesterday and today: The Globe
These notes contain spoilers, but mostly they address questions that might be raised by seeing the play.

 Equivocation is so rich in characters, themes and resonance (too rich for some tastes) that to do much more than introduce the basic action, as I did in my review, would just be confusing.

The play is set in 1606, yet in style it's contemporary.  Previous productions in fact have been done in modern dress, as the playwright suggests.  Redwood Curtain chooses a modified period style.

"The Shakespeare Code"
Since at least Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Gildenstern Are Dead, there have been a number of plays that use Shakespeare's stories with a twist, or in which Shakespeare himself appears, usually as a more or less contemporary person in historical circumstances--from Shakespeare in Love (Stoppard again) to a classic episode of David Tennant's Doctor Who ("The Shakespeare Code.")  Equivocation follows in this "tradition", and depends on what are now the conventions of it.  Especially that we aren't thrown off by people in 1606 talking a lot like 2006, minus contemporary references.

Yet the play purports to show the interplay of  English politics and William Shakespeare's theatre company in the early 17th century, and involves a famous historical event--the Gunpowder Plot, which is still the focus of holiday celebrations in the UK. (We mostly know it as Guy Fawkes Day, celebrating both the anarchic spirit and the survival of the British government, with bonfires and fireworks.)

 So the first question that might arise after seeing the play could be: how much of the history is made up?

Robert Cecil
Most if not all of the characters named are authentic historical figures.  The play begins with Robert Cecil commissioning Shakespeare to write a play about the Gunpowder Plot, based on a history written by King James himself.  Robert Cecil was indeed Secretary of State to both Queen Elizabeth and then James, and was widely regarded as James' spymaster.  James did write essays etc., though perhaps not this particular history.

Elizabeth's long reign had ended in 1603.  She died without children and without naming an heir.  Cecil was (as noted in this play) instrumental in having James installed as King.  James was the son of Mary Queen of Scots, and was ruling Scotland at the time.  By becoming King, he became head of the Church of England.

Since Henry VIII, the official religion in England was the Church of England, with the King as its head.  Previously England had been Roman Catholic (with the Pope as its head), and ever since Henry there had been religious and political conflict between outlawed adherents of "the old religion" and the official Protestant religion.

The Gunpowder Plot was ostensibly a conspiracy of various English gentlemen and perhaps clergy to overthrow the government and establish a new monarch (Mary's young daughter Elizabeth, with a Catholic regent acting on her behalf.)  The idea was to plant a large quantity of gunpowder beneath the room where Parliament had its opening ceremonies, with the King, his family and ministers attending.  (Wikipedia has an extensive entry on the topic.)
King James

The official version of these events--the letter that eventually alerted Robert Cecil to the plot, the arrests that foiled the plot--are as described in this play.  The conspirators were said to have dug a tunnel to a room under Parliament--Shakespeare has problems believing this in the play, and subsequent historians have found no evidence for a tunnel.  Such a room existed (and still does.) Oddly it was in private hands at the time and no such extreme measures as a tunnel were needed to store gunpowder in it.  If the gunpowder said to have been found in this room really was there, it was more than enough to demolish Parliament and kill everyone in the room (according to a British TV experiment.)


Two other historical figures and characters in the play are Thomas Wintour and the Jesuit priest Henry Garnet.  They were among those imprisoned, tortured and executed in the manner described in the play.  The play faithfully follows the version of his involvement that Garnet asserted--he knew only what had been said to another priest in confession.  He did in fact write a treatise on "equivocation," although he was not the only one or even the first to relate it to "mental reservation", a concept within Catholic and specifically Jesuit ethics, though it has earlier origins.

"Equivocation," as Garnet defines it in the play: "Don't answer the question they're asking. If a dishonest man has formed the question, there will be no honest answer. Answer the question beneath the question. The equivalent question. Answer the question really asked. And answer it with your life."

This play suggests that Robert Cecil himself was behind the gunpowder plot, or at least the story of it that he wanted told.  This was a suspicion of the time, and was developed as a theory by Father John Gerard in 1897.  Others refute these claims.  That Cecil learned of the plot and let it develop for awhile before exposing it is more credible, and more credible still is that he used it for his own political ends.

Cecil, by the way, was a hunchback as suggested in the play, and both his family's prior history he refers to, and its subsequent important history in British government he foresees into the 21st century (including a Nobel Peace Prize), are broadly accurate.

Besides Cecil and other figures involved in the gunpowder plot and its aftermath, Equivocation makes William Shakespeare a character, as well as depicting members of his theatrical troupe.

Shakespeare and all the King's Men

from Shakespeare in Love
 I could verify all the players in Shakespeare's troupe--the King's Men-- that this play names, except "Nate," but in an interview, Equivocation's playwright Bill Cain claimed that an actor by that name was in fact among them.  Richard Burbage was Shakespeare's lead actor.  Robert Armin played the clown roles and had an excellent singing voice.  He was a more verbal comic than Will Kempe, who he replaced.  Richard Sharpe was indeed a young member, who before he joined the company started out very young playing women's parts.

Shakespeare in fact did have a daughter named Judith, and she was the twin sister of his son Hamnet, who died at age 11.  But it does seem she was back with her sister in Stratford and not living with her father in London, as in this play.  The play also shows her reading and even editing Shakespeare's texts, but (according to Shakespeare biographer Peter Ackroyd) in fact she was probably illiterate.

There are many witty lines about Shakespeare and his present day status made by Cecil and others.  He's all things to all men, Cecil says, and adds later, "People will go to your plays as they used to go to church. Reverently. And they will leave exactly as they went in, unchanged but feeling somehow improved."

  It's also suggested that Shakespeare was a long-retired actor in his troupe, and not a very good one.  However it's probable that he stopped acting just a few years before, in 1603 or 04.  And there are those (including Orson Welles and Peter O'Toole) who looked at the parts he played and concluded he must have been one of the troupe's better actors.

This play shows the company rehearsing King Lear, and then performing Macbeth.  In fact Macbeth was performed for King James probably in the spring of 1606. King Lear was probably performed that December, so the earlier rehearsals aren't outlandish.

Equivocation begins with Shakespeare being given a commission to write a play based on the official version of the Gunpowder Plot, as written by King James.   Being named the King's Men was an honor but it also meant that the company performed many plays a year before the king and the court.  Still, there's no record of such a commission.

But the idea might have been inspired by a slightly earlier event, in which Shakespeare and his company may have been deliberately used as an adjunct to violent political plot, with potentially disastrous results.  In 1601, supporters of the Earl of Essex paid for a performance by Shakespeare's company of his play Richard II, which involves the deposing of the king.  Some of these were also conspiring with Essex to start a rebellion against the government.  It was alleged later that they were using the performance both as a cover for their activities that day, and as inspiration and justification for overthrowing the monarch.  But the revolt failed, and after some uncertainty, Shakespeare and players escaped punishment.
Orson Welles as Macbeth

Shakespeare, in this play and in reality, never wrote a play about the gunpowder plot, but as in this play, the next play he wrote and produced was Macbeth.  Scenes from it, with some theatrical additions, are the climax of Equivocation.

The relationships of Macbeth to James I, the gunpowder plot and the concept of equivocation drawn in this play are drawn elsewhere in the critical literature. From one point of view, Macbeth is about the consequences of killing a king.  It's the Scottish play, James was a Scot, and (according to Ackroyd) "King James had been greeted by three sibyls at the gates of an Oxford college and hailed as the true descendant of Banquo."  In Shakespeare's play, Banquo is declared the father of kings by three witches, and Macbeth murders him.  Shakespeare differs here from previous stories about Macbeth, in which Banquo is among the conspirators against the rightful king Duncan (who Macbeth also murders.)  This can be seen as illustrating of the charge Cecil makes in Equivocation, that Shakespeare, a master of equivocation, made sure to stay on the right side of the powerful.

In Equivocation, much is made of King James wish that there be witches in Shakespeare's play.  James was known for his interest in occult or malign spirits, and had written on the subject.

Judith Shakespeare
At the end of  Equivocation, Judith makes a powerful point about Shakespeare's last plays, and the father-daughter relationships within his general theme of family.  Peter Ackroyd makes much the same point in his biography of Shakespeare--in fact, since this book was published in 2005, it may have suggested this observation to playwright Cain.  "The essential bond is father and daughter. It may not be the pattern of his life," Ackroyd wrote, "but it clearly is the pattern of his imagination."

Contemporary Flavors

Equivocation was first produced up in Ashland at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2009, so it's reasonable to assume Cain wrote it during the G.W. Bush administration.  There certainly are echoes of the Bush administration's use and justification of torture.  There's suggestion of the political exploitation of the plot that succeeded (9/11) as well as the plot that failed (the gunpowder plot.)

There's also some echo of today's polarized politics. In the play Robert Cecil admits that his political purpose is to keep the country sharply divided. "When a country is evenly divided - and plots can be so helpful for that - the slightest touch of a royal finger on the scale changes the balance."

But contemporary as well as historical relevance go beyond these specifics, at least in Cain's stated intent.  He'd visited the Tower of London, seen where prisoners had been tortured, and noticed that the Globe theatre was close by.  He said that this play is about "the relationship of the Tower and the theatre," and that Shakespeare's troupe "was the only functioning democracy anywhere in the world in 1605."


There are several witty comments on Shakespeare's dramaturgy, and the nature of plays in general that this play turns into elegant symmetries.

In Equivocation Shakespeare complains that the gunpowder plot can be made into a dramatic play because the explosion never happened--it's a story without an ending.  He tries various ways to write this play, but does not succeed.  Yet what is Equivocation itself about? A play that never gets written about an event that never takes place.

But this Shakespeare also wants to revolt against the strictures of what must be in a play. He tells Judith he yearns to write "A new kind of play. Not the clash of opposites, but their union. Not tearing; joining. Forgiveness, not blame." "A play that's not about revenge?" Judith retorts. "It can't be done."  But he does it in his later plays.

Several times Shakespeare also bemoans other conventions of the stage--histories end in battle, comedies in marriage and tragedies in death--and longs to write a play that defies these.  Arguably Shakespeare also did this in his later plays, but so does Bill Cain: Equivocation is a history and a comedy that ends in death (Shakespeare's.)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

This North Coast Weekend

Opening this weekend at Redwood Curtain: Equivocation, a play by Bill Cain in which Shakespeare has a speaking part. It's got humor, melodrama, politics, special effects and swordfights.  Directed by Catherine L. Brown, it features James Hitchcock, Gary Sommers, Dmitry Tokarsky, Cody Miranda, David Hamilton and Ambar Cuevas.  It previews Thursday and Friday, September 4 and 5, and opens Saturday with a reception, all beginning at 8 p.m., 443-7688.