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Love & War: with the Bards Broads and Dames Touchstone Gallery
Remaining Performance: Saturday, July 28 @ 9:00pm
They say: Two movements inspired by people inspired by Shakespeare’s inspiring women (for better or worse). Women speak two languages – one of which is verbal. Movement and language create a delightful, dark duel for the Bard’s ladies entrenched in war. Love prevails as Juliet answers letters with comic and touching effect.
Glens take: Read the above blurb again. Okay? Got it? Notice how the individual sentences more or less make sense, but when you read them together, things go all feathery ’round the edges? That, bound in a Shakespearean nutshell, is Love & War. The first half’s a series of 10 scenes from Shakespeare in which wives, mothers, daughters and Weird Sisters discuss men and war. The second, more successful half imagines an assortment of star-cross’d lovers writing to Juliet Capulet for advice on how to successfully resolve affairs of the heart. (Which seems a bit like asking Lucrezia Borgia for her caponata recipe, but let that go.)
For War/Piece, the Shakespeare-on-shuffle opener, four actresses share the stage, but Hilary Kacser (also the producer) does most of the talking. Kacser declaims with skill, but gives every line near-equal emphasis; the resulting flatness of tone doesn’t help her sell the emotions behind the words she enunciates so crisply. You lose the through-line, the guiding principle that ostensibly links these speeches, and the performance skirts dangerously close to recitation. She does leaven her final monologue (from Taming of the Shrew) with welcome irony — which mostly serves to make you wonder why she waited so long.
The Juliet Project, the Capulet-as-agony-aunt closer, feels undercooked in that familiarly Fringey, pink-in-the-thematic-middle sort of way. But it does allow other actors to step up (especially Jennifer Crooks and Jordan Boughrum, who make the most of the opportunity), and it boasts some dense, clever writing that deserves to get unpacked someday.
See it if: When you read the title War/Piece just now, you chuckled.
Skip it if: When you read the title War/Piece just now, you thought of a really annoying grad student you dated once.