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2018 August 19

Santa Cruz Shakespeare 2018

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I have now seen all of the Santa Cruz Shakespeare productions for 2018, except the intern’s show Men I’m Not Married To, which starts on Wed 22 August.  There are four performances left of Love’s Labours Lost, Romeo and Juliet, and Venus in Fur, plus the three performances of the intern’s show.

Santa Cruz Shakespeare Venus in Fur 2018
Photo by Shmuel Thaler (from )

All the performances are worth seeing, but Venus in Fur is definitely the highlight of the season—it is the play that the set was designed around (the set doesn’t really work for the Shakespearean plays), it has the best lighting and sound effects, and it showcases the talents of two very strong actors.  Brian Ibsen’s interpretation of Thomas in Venus in Fur is outstanding,  which I had not expected from his rather lackluster performance as Berowne in Love’s Labours Lost.  Even more impressive is María Gabriella Rosado González’s performance as Vanda, switching seamlessly between three different characters: actress, Victorian woman, and goddess.  The only thing that marred the production was the miking of the actors—occasionally the amplification failed.  It might have been better not to mike them at all (I might not have felt that way if I had been seated further back—audibility of some actors can be a problem in outdoor theater).

I reviewed Love’s Labours Lost earlier, when I saw the first preview—I’ll see it again at the end of the run, when it may have improved a bit.

The Romeo and Juliet is a fairly straightforward, traditional interpretation of the play, despite changing the genders of Benvolio and Tybalt to meet SCS’s goal of having gender balance in their cast.  SCS will be ending the season this year with a number of matinees of Romeo and Juliet for local high-school students—probably the best choice for educational purposes.

In addition to the full productions, SCS also did two free staged readings this year The Doll’s House and The Taming.  The reading of The Doll’s House was very polished for a staged reading and was well worth attending.  I had mixed feelings about The Taming: the play was funny, but some of the lines were rushed and the actresses sometimes difficult to hear.  It was worth going, but was clearly not as rehearsed as The Doll’s House. The Taming is also a play with a fairly short half-life, being full of topical references and slang—if they plan to do a full production of it, they’ll have to do it in the next couple of years.


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