Posted May 30, 2013 by Cooper Point Journal in Campus Life

Slamspeare, Not as Corny as It Sounds

    It’s surprisingly easy for Shakespeare to fall flat; everyone has their own ideas on how certain characters should be played, how specific monologues should be delivered. Toe the line and actors risk fading into dusty caricatures of roles hardly worth recollecting. Stray too far from the source material, and the director may be accused of betraying the Bard, putting too much of their own vision into a classic work, or of being gimmicky.

    To find a show with a healthy balance of experimentalism and traditionalism with the words of William Shakespeare is a rare gift, and I am pleased to report back that Slamspeare was one such treat.

     The entire cast put their best performances forward, guiding audiences sometimes gently and sometimes forcefully through a myriad of emotional spectra. Each piece stood powerfully on its own. Sam Bennet’s rendition of Caliban from “The Tempest” stood out as particularly haunting: a strange ethereal quality to his motions and physical presence on the stage came across as polished and yet raw and somewhat inhuman.

    Emily Bittrick presented a thoroughly unfamiliar depiction of an eerie breed of madness as Launce from “Two Gentlemen of Verona.” Her prop work stood out as one of the highlights of the show, putting a palpable tension into the scene by contorting a stuffed dog and talking to her own left shoe.

    While the individual monologues may have been fantastic, the most impressive aspect of the show was the transitional elements between disparate scenes. Each scene was timed perfectly to emotionally charged music. Several pieces were original compositions by Greener Miles Gordon.

    Further connecting pieces never typically presented together, director Nick McCord ordered monologues in a sequence that at times suggested an overarching narrative. Anthony carried the crumpled corpse of Bottom off the stage, crossing the world of “Anthony and Cleopatra” with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The offended lover Helena from “Midsummer Night’s Dream” rebuked the advances of a lovesick Berowene of “Love’s Labor Lost.” Overall, the production created a metaframework that reflected Shakespeare’s frequent use of the “play within a play.”

    All over, the risks taken by actors and director alike in Slamspeare paid off and had the rare effect of both staying true to the original and introducing a modern touch to create a singular dream-like production.

By Troy Mead