Friday, May 24

Play brings to life Shakespearean toil, trouble


Play brings to life Shakespearean toil, trouble

By Jennifer Richmond

Daily Bruin Senior Staff

Scandal was running rampant around the time of Shakespeare’s
death. But few people knew why ­ until now.

Jan Harris takes the true story of Shakespeare and the events
surrounding his death and molds them into a wonderful tale of
intrigue, malice and revenge.

"… And to My Daughter" focuses on Shakespeare’s daughter
Judith, and the battle she fights with her brother-in-law over her
father’s will.

Harris answers the questions about why Judith (Joanna Lipari)
was an unmarried spinster at the age of 31, why Shakespeare left
his dear wife Ann Hathaway (Sheree North) with only "his second
best bed" and why his finished will had so many alterations.

But in answering these questions and many others, one
unnecessary addition is made to the production.

That addition is the two storytellers Stove (Michael McKenzie)
and Tryan (Richard Hilton). While their opening makes for a
delightful beginning, their constant interruptions that explain the
preceding actions detract from the play. They end up serving as
Cliffs’ Notes for each scene.

But these storytellers are really the only minus in the
production as a whole. The show moves along quite nicely ­
bringing to life the sinister brother-in-law John Hall (Scott
Burkholder), the manipulating Judith and her trapped love interest
Tom Quinney (Bob Mc Cracken). All three characters make up the bulk
of the scheme that seems to link Shakespeare to one of the biggest
scandals of his time.

Hall is the doctor of the family ­ only he’s not the healer
one would expect to encounter when visiting his "office." Complete
with the wonderful medicines of toad root and frog skin, it’s easy
to see why he can say "I cured her of the cold, but she died of the
cough."

Sure he cures his patients. The play insinuates that because of
Hall’s medical treatment, Shakespeare ends up dead.

In portraying his underhanded scheming, Burkholder plays Dr.
Hall with the perfect combination of biting remarks and understated
bitterness. He never lets on what he’s planning, but his actions
and remarks become more and more telling as his statements become
more and more pointed.

Eventually, Judith isn’t the only one who knows what Hall wants.
The audience can see the manipulative wheels spinning as Hall
realizes Judith is moving in on what should be his. Hall believes
his father-in-law should leave him everything rather than willing
it to Judith and her new-found love.

Lipari portrays Judith with the same understated bite that
Burkholder plays Hall. The only difference is that her dark side is
clear from the start of the play, whereas his keeps its face hidden
until the second act. She’s a bitch. It’s that simple.

But it’s that bitchiness that makes the production worth while.
Watching her scheme is just as delicious as watching John get his
at the end of the production.

STAGE: "… And to My Daughter." Written by Jan Harris. Directed
by Remi Aubuchon. At the Tiffany Theater.

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