Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
Texas Shakespeare Festival
We enjoyed TSF so much last year, we went back this year. We saw Carousel, Merchant of Venice, Blithe Spirit, and Henry V. Here's the Theatre Jones review of three of the four, if you want an quick overview from someone besides me.
I have always had a problem with Carousel because it seems to excuse violence toward women. I wouldn't have even agreed to go see it this season except I read this editorial last fall by Noel Katz called "Are You Grown Up Enough for Carousel?" which I have linked for you below. Katz gave me a whole new perspective on the show and I highly recommend that you read it, if you, like me, have the same problem with this show that I did.
Merchant of Venice
Merchant of Venice is another problem show for me with its seemingly anti-semitic theme. If you would like to read three different interpretations of Shylock, I have linked to a really good article below. This was the show we attended the panel discussion for and I'm so glad that the calendar fell that way. The director, Leslie Reidel, had a unique concept for the show, which was that it wasn't Shylock's story, it was a romantic comedy about three couples coming together and was (mostly) Portia's story. Portia was played by the brilliant Megan Simpson. Shylock is the villian who complicates and upsets the course of true love, like Don John in Much Ado. Unlike Don John, Shylock is drawn with more detail and depth. In fact, Shakespeare does such a good job of making Shylock a fully fleshed out character, that people mistakenly believe that he's the central character. Shylock was played by Stephen Wyman, who also directed Henry V. After seeing this production, I finally realized that Shylock has more in common with a grumpy old man who refuses to listen to reason, rather like some rednecks I know, regardless of religion.
Here's a review of the show by Cynthia Greenwood on PlayShakespeare.com.
Blithe Spirit is one of my favorite plays having seen it performed splendidly in college by my friends under the briliant direction of Robert "Coach" Wenck. This was the show I was looking forward to seeing the most.
I had never seen this production staged before, although I was intimately familiar with the Branagh version, it being my husband's favorite work of the Bard. Although the acting was phenomenal, it was the angled scenery and sharp lighting that made the performance so wonderfully atmospheric. I noticed and appreciated the special effects makeup of the vivid and historically accurate scar on Henry's right cheek. In case you are not familiar with the story, Henry's face had been pierced by an arrow at The Battle of Shrewsbury when he was sixteen. The arrowhead was lodged deep in his cheek bone and couldn't be removed in the field. So, Henry broke it off at the shaft and kept fighting. It was only due to having the best surgeons money could buy that he survived his wounds. There's a link to an article about the scar below:
Here's a review by Cynthia Greenwood on Play Shakespeare.com.