Clarity Hagan & Brooke Morrison in ShakesQueer. Photo: three witches shakespeare
Scenes by William Shakespeare
A review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2023 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
On Thursday night, I visited Trouble Bar to catch a viewing of ShakesQueer, the current production from three witches shakespeare. I asked the bartender about the performance. Her response, “are you in the play? Or are you seeing the play?” At that point, I knew I was in the right spot. More like a secret show that only the cool kids know about, ShakesQueer serves up a literal come- as- you- are vibe with three scenes from the Bard’s tragic works. The text takes on a richer more fluid meaning in this quick paced showcase.
Hamlet, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra are on display in short, concise scenes. Lighting and sound cues are gone. No costumes to worry about. Just the words as written. With directors like Keith McGill, Tyler Tate, and Sarah Chen Elston, the scenes take liberties and then some to place classic characters in a modern setting. Lady Macbeth writes a letter by way of voice app on their phone. Ophelia recounts her discord with Hamlet while recording on her phone. Although, I have always thought modernizing Shakespeare to be hacky, the use of phones and technology was cleverly utilized.
I speculated if producing scenes of guilt, revenge, and madness was accidental or absolutely intentional. Zach Stone’s Lady Macbeth “unsex me” speech is a subtle reimagining of a character hungry for power and held back by gender. Caisey Cole and Melinda Beck’s appearance as Cleopatra and Charmain emit strong energy as Cole’s Egyptian queen celebrates her rule and stands her ground against betrayal. And then there was the third and final scene from the tragedy of the Prince of Denmark.
Each scene was met with a ten minute stretch break. While these scene breaks gave the former two scenes a sense of beginning and ending, it was the final scene from Hamlet that this affected the most. Sitting nearly out of the way with tarot cards, Brooke Morrison meditatively began the “To be or not to be” speech. While other patrons socialized, Morrison was steadfast in her performance as she flipped cards, looking for answers. To see a shift from socializing to focus on performance with no technical cues made for an organic piece of art.
three witches shakespeare intends to perform ShakesQueer two more times. I do hope they continue these short performances in their repertoire. Three scenes almost seemed too short and I would love to see what is possible with scenes from the likes of Othello, King Lear or even a comedy. Whatever the next show may be, ShakesQueer proves that three witches shakespeare has a cool, fearless take on the Bard’s classic words.
Thursday 9/14 @ Trouble Bar – – 7:30 pm
Friday 9/15 @ The Old Louisville Coffee Co-op – – 7:30 pm
Saturday 9/16 @ Canary Club – 7:30 pm
three witches shakespeare
Kate Barry has worked with many different companies around town since graduating in 08 from Bellarmine University. She’s worked with CenterStage, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions. She used to work in the box office at that little performing arts center on Main Street but now she helps save the planet. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. Her play “Catcher Released” won an honorable mention with the Kentucky Playwrites Workshop. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. When she is not writing, she teaches yoga. Thanks for reading!