Good Night, Desdemona

By Ann Marie MacDonald
Directed by Cecil MacKinnon
At the Stables Theatre
Shakespeare & Co. Lenox July 1995

Reviewed by G.L. Horton

Ann-Marie MacDonald's Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) is an allusive romp for a quick-changing cast of classically trained actors, an excessively silly in-joke for Shakespeareans of all sorts: actors, scholars, wise men and fools. The heroine, Constance Ledbelly (Robin Hynek), is a drudging mouse of a PhD candidate in thrall to the English department's charismatic star, Professor Claude Knight (Robert Lohbaur). Connie, noticing that Othello and Romeo and Juliet both turn on the sort of coincidence more suited to comic plots than tragic ones, decides that originally the plays were comedies, complete with happy endings; and that the indecipherable manuscript she has found holds both the Ur-versions and the answer to the mystery of Authorship. Hyneck is nearly perfect as Constance, quite profoundly ridiculous as she travels through time and imagination to meet her literary idols in person and alter the plots of their lives. Kim Huffman is a magnificent Amazonian Desdemona, Tom Partipilo persuasive as a boundlessly fickle Romeo. Ann Podlozny is vocally splendid as a teen age Juliet bent on romantic agony,--- but physically she's a matron, and a bit on the stodgy side. Both Iago and Tybalt seem to be out of Andrew Borthwick-Leslie's range, and as Mercutio and Othello Antonio Ocampo could use a bit more matter and a bit less Del Arte. But as a troupe the Shakespeareans attack this trifle with gusto, and make it fly. Under the breakneck direction of Cecil MacKinnon, and with costume and set designers Lohbauer and Locks supplying everything the actors need to work with and not one ruffle or flourish more,. they speak the speeches trippingly and dash off dangerous duels and play each instant transformation to the hilt. In their hands the script seems half as long, twice as probable, and five times as funny as it was at the Nora Theatre a few seasons back.