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Washington DC by Tracy Lyon

Shakespeare in Hollywood

Local playwright Ken Ludwig mixes old Hollywood and quite a lot of Shakespeare to create his latest offering, Shakespeare In Hollywood. Now playing at Arena stage, the comedy is a light and airy piece that is consistent with Ludwig’s prior works.

The show is set in 1930s Hollywood and it details the filming of Max Reinhardt’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. An unusual set of circumstance occur when the real Oberon and Puck appear out of nowhere. They are quickly cast in the film and chaos ensues.

The show itself is quite amusing. It has a few rough edges where some jokes fall flat. However, this play is all Ludwig. It is no wonder that he chose A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the basis for this play considering his fondness for using mistaken identity and rapid fire movement.

The cast of this play seem to be having a great time. Casey Biggs makes quite a dashing Oberon and his comedic moments are very strong. Emily Donahoe deftly plays his impish yet swaggering sidekick, Puck. Additionally, Maggie Lacey is quite engaging as Oberon’s love interest, Olivia Darnell.

Veteran stage and screen actor Robert Prosky delivers an enjoyable portrayal of the director, Max Reinhardt. However, as a whole his performance is uneven. The true star of this play is Alice Ripley as Lydia Lansing, Jack Warner’s girlfriend. Ripley’s performance brings to mind actresses such as Vivian Blaine or Judy Holliday, however she manages to add her own twist to the character. Her times on stage are truly the best in the show.

Directed by Kyle Donnelly, the show is paced out well and the space is used to its advantage. The set design by Thomas Lynch is works well and Jess Goldstein’s costumes are simply outstanding.

Although, Shakespeare In Hollywood is an entertaining play, it would be nice to see Ludwig stray from his now familiar formula. Nonetheless, Shakespeare does offer some good performances and some hearty laughs. Shakespeare in Hollywood runs through October 19th.

Arena Stage – The Fichlander Theatre
Shakespeare in Hollywood
September 5th – October 19th
By Ken Ludwig
Directed by Kyle Donnelly
1101 Sixth Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024
Ticket Information: 202-488-3300 or www.arenastage.org

Cast List

Oberon: Casey Biggs
Puck: Emily Donahoe
Jack Warner: Rick Foucheux
Max Reinhardt: Robert Prosky
Will Hays: Everett Quinton
Daryl: Michael Skinner
Olivia Darnell: Maggie Lacy
Lydia Lansing: Alice Ripley
Louella Parsons: Ellen Karas
Dick Powell: David Fendig
Jimmy Cagney: Adam Richman
Joe E. Brown: Hugh Nees
Ensemble: Bethany Caputo, Robert McClure, Eric Jorgensen, Scott Graham


-- Tracy Lyon


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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