Photo by Jose Armando Rodriguez.
Algo de un Tal Shakespeare
Something about a Guy Named Shakespeare
By/Escrita por Adrián Vazquez H.
Directed and performed by/Direccion y Actuación Francisco Juárez y Jay Marie Padilla
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2016 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Over time the two Spanish language theatre companies producing plays in Louisville are establishing separate identities: one decidedly more commercial and one dedicated to more sober-minded material. The latter is Teatro Tercera Llamada, who, after taking on such topics as a poetical consideration of the destruction of the World Trade Center and an original play about the immigration experience of Mexican families in the U.S., delves into a tight and economical script about Shakespeare.
The one act is academic in its tone. It is an informal lecture about the Bard of Avon using a lot of Romeo & Juliet, a healthy dose of Macbeth and Titus Andronicus, and a smidge of The Tempest to introduce novices to Shakespeare’s work and/or to open our eyes to seeing these plays in a new way. Two performers, Francisco Juárez and Jay Marie Padilla, present the stories from the plays in a manner very much like story time for children, except there is an ironic level of interaction between the two that prevents the material from being condescending.
The action makes prodigious use of puppets, expertly crafted with great wit by Señor Juárez, masks, and some truly funny music cues that take great advantage of clichéd familiarity for comic effect. There is even a tender love scene that turns into a more…physical encounter – for the puppets, that is, but all is handled discreetly, so that even young children would find no offense. Juárez and Señorita Padilla make a good pair onstage: well matched physically but a contrast emotionally. He comes across as very dry and remote, while she is very playful and spontaneous.
At a scant 45 minutes, the piece doesn’t demand as much from the audience as it might, but there are more troubling maxims to use as a creative guidepost than, “leaving them wanting more.” There is enough freewheeling storytelling to support a more significant development of the premise, and in the end, it feels as if Shakespeare gets a bit shortchanged. Perhaps Señor Vazquez H. might see his way clear to a sequel, or even a series. Three is a powerful number.
The English supertitles for the Spanish-language production were effectively managed, seemingly without a glitch. Besides the exemplary design work of the puppets, simple but evocative lighting was a worthwhile contribution to the look and feel of the piece.
In its choice of these three plays, Algo de un Tal Shakespeare seeks to remind us that one of the reasons these stories have survived for 600 years as the guiding light not just in theatre but in world literature in general, is that they traffic in very fundamental human experience. Elevating love, fear, and terror to such poetic heights as they realize the fullest potential of language, we shouldn’t doubt for a second why this is so.
Algo de un Tal Shakespeare de Adrián Vazquez
¿Quieren aprender sobre las obras del gran William Shakespeare?
April 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, & 16 @ 7:30pm & April 10 at 6pm
Teatro Tercera Llamada
1031 South Sixth St.
Louisville, KY 40203
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the day, including being the host of PUBLIC on ARTxFM/WXOX-LP, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.