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Lunatics and Romantics play ‘impressive’

Owens actors bring Shakespeare to life

By Scott Fennell Jr., Culture Critic

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Lovers and Madmen is the fall production this semester at Owens. I had the chance to attend the program on its opening night. This was also the first show I’ve ever attended at Owens.

I was impressed. A small cast of 10 performed some phenomenal theatre. The production is very experimental. The writers combined four Shakespearean plays together into one show: The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, and Much Ado about Nothing.

Another unique aspect of the show was that the entire audience was seated on the stage. The combination of plays worked well. It basically shortened each play. The actors performed the most essential parts of Shakespeare’s works. The four were not mixed together, just all performed in their own short lights, and just long enough to grasp the concepts.

The decision to have the audience on stage was made to encourage interaction and immersion. There was a scene in Hamlet (if my memory serves me right) where the extras were all passing a flower between each other. When they got to the last cast member, they extended their arm out to the audience sitting on stage right. In the show I attended, nobody caught on and grabbed the rose, but I hope in another show it worked! I was jealous I wasn’t sitting there; I would have grabbed the rose and kept passing it along.

Another special effect of the seating was that you really felt like you were part of something special. The cast would move around the entire stage, and you would see everyone in the audience as you looked around. Really made me feel like we experienced this show together, as a group.

The show was directed by Owens student Christopher Smith. Chris is an acting major and specialization in directing. Lovers and Madmen was his first directed work, but it seemed to me like his tenth. Smith will be a senior this coming spring semester.

According to Brendan Bean, an actor in the show, the “title speaks for itself. There is always a lover and always a madman.”

These four shows all had the same elements of a romance. Bean played Lysander in A

Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Hamlet, in you know, Hamlet. I wanted to catch up with Brendan specifically after the show because we both went to the same high school in Swanton.

Bean was part of an epic fight as Lysander. He was fighting with Demetrius over the lovely Helena. The fight started off as a disco dance battle, until Lysander threw the first punch. After asking about how he could possibly prepare for such a feat, he told me that the fighting was all choreographed by Chloe Whiting-Stevenson. However, the dancing portion was all improvised.

Lovers and Madmen wrapped up Nov. 11.

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