A&E road trip: 'Equivocation' in D.C.

November 30, 2011
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

(Note: Sparked by a Creative Renewal Grant from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, I'm seeing as much theater around the country . Here's the latest.)

One of the many, many pleasures of Bill Cain’s play “Equivocation” is how deftly the playwright constructs a rough draft of a play that Shakespeare never wrote.

That fragment-of-a-play-within-a-play is based on the alleged “Gunpowder Plot” of Guy Fawkes and company—a story that the Bard is ordered to write in order to elevate the stature of the buffoonish King and denigrate his enemies.

Shakespeare—or Shagspeare as he is known here—knows the difference between propaganda and literature. But he isn’t given much choice in the matter: Write the play or else.

Well, we know he didn’t write it. But like Shakespeare before him, Bill Cain isn’t shy about taking a bit of history and manipulating it for theatrical pleasure. And in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival production being staged at Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage through Jan. 1, he’s teamed with a near ideal cast and a savvy director to pull it all together.

In their hands, “Equivocation” is a piece that takes the best elements of such costume dramas as “A Man for All Seasons,” mixes in a reluctant hero a la Rick from “Casablanca,” and finds a great balance of bon mots (“Plays have beginnings and ends—two lies right there.”) and moving dramatic moments, adding up to a tremendously satisfying evening.

I wasn’t convinced that the fourth wall needed to be broken—although having Shag’s daughter (a movingly restrained Christine Albright) criticize soliloquies in soliloquy form was fun. And the second act lacked the moment-to-moment theatrical joy of the first, occasionally seeming to try to convince us of things we’ve already accepted. But those quibbles aren’t meant to diminish the achievement here. Director Bill Rauch wisely avoids underlining the contemporary too obviously, allowing the costumes and set to stay in period and the audience to meet the show half way to draw its own parallels to today. The design is spare but effectively so.

Anthony Heald (TV watchers may remember him as a regular on “Boston Public”) plays Shagspeare as a man accustomed to twisting facts, just uncomfortable being ordered to do so. He still hasn’t come to terms with the death of his son and keeps the boy’s twin sister at an emotional distance. Jonathan Haugen, another Oregon Shakespeare Festival regular, should receive two best supporting actor awards for playing both the King’s emotionally and physically twisted right-hand-man Cecil and one of the Shakespearian troupers. (My only problem with Haugen—his massive torso tattoo, which distracted in what should have been a vulnerable near-nude scene for Cecil.) They, along with John Tufts, Richard Elmore, and Gergory Linington, made me jealous of those living close enough to Ashland, Oregon, who get to see their work on a regular basis.

For a sample, click here.

Your thoughts


Post a comment to this blog

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
  1. In reality, Lilly is maintaining profit by cutting costs such as Indiana/US citizen IT workers by a significant amount with their Tata Indian consulting connection, increasing Indian H1B's at Lillys Indiana locations significantly and offshoring to India high paying Indiana jobs to cut costs and increase profit at the expense of U.S. workers.

  2. I think perhaps there is legal precedence here in that the laws were intended for family farms, not pig processing plants on a huge scale. There has to be a way to squash this judges judgment and overrule her dumb judgement. Perhaps she should be required to live in one of those neighbors houses for a month next to the farm to see how she likes it. She is there to protect the people, not the corporations.

  3. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/facts/03-111.htm Corporate farms are not farms, they are indeed factories on a huge scale. The amount of waste and unhealthy smells are environmentally unsafe. If they want to do this, they should be forced to buy a boundary around their farm at a premium price to the homeowners and landowners that have to eat, sleep, and live in a cesspool of pig smells. Imagine living in a house that smells like a restroom all the time. Does the state really believe they should take the side of these corporate farms and not protect Indiana citizens. Perhaps justifiable they should force all the management of the farms to live on the farm itself and not live probably far away from there. Would be interesting to investigate the housing locations of those working at and managing the corporate farms.

  4. downtown in the same area as O'malia's. 350 E New York. Not sure that another one could survive. I agree a Target is needed d'town. Downtown Philly even had a 3 story Kmart for its downtown residents.

  5. Indy-area residents... most of you have no idea how AMAZING Aurelio's is. South of Chicago was a cool pizza place... but it pales in comparison to the heavenly thin crust Aurelio's pizza. Their deep dish is pretty good too. My waistline is expanding just thinking about this!