Friday, 23 November 2001

William 37 by Adam J A Cass, Nov 23, 2001

by Adam J A Cass at La Mama, Nov 23 until December 2, 2001
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

It is puzzling why playwright/director, Adam Cass, chose to write this play based on Shakespeare's thirty-seven plays - puzzling mainly because it struggles to work as a piece of theatre.

Seven actors appear in Cass's ninety-minute narrative that involves numerous pseudo-Shakespearean themes including family, lovers, betrayal, patricide and some unseen terrorists.

The problem is that the narrative is incoherent and the form awkward.  The style keeps changing and the titles of scenes interrupt the flow of story.

The performers and director confuse shouting with passion. The actors do not lack commitment. All seven give the play their best shot.

However, characters are two-dimensional and display no genuine emotion. The actors are not connected to the text so they look uncomfortable and tense most of the time.

The story goes like this. Henry, a father and King (Ian DeLacy) is wounded but was evidently saved by Julia (Hayley Butcher) whose sister, Rebecca, (Vicky Fifis), is a prophetess of sorts.

William, Henry's son, (Lucas Wilson) craves the crown, marries Elizabeth (Justine Beltrame) and suffers the indignity of his father seducing her.

Confused yet? I still am. This is a valiant effort to create a new work that incorporates ideas and incidents from all the plays in chronological order. Each play warranted a two or three minute scene and was announced by the Prologue (Noni Bousfield) and Epilogue (Chris Molyneux).

It is a tall order to attempt to write a script that meets the level of its subject, the greatest English language playwright. Snippets of Shakespeare's own dialogue and poetry peep out of the play and shine. The audience clearly enjoys these references and quotations.

The design, by Paula Levis, is a clever and effective wallpapering of La Mama with enormous black and white printed text from Shakespeare's plays.

The soundscape, (Jeremy Collings) Anthony Pateras) it has some appropriate and interesting moments but is often too loud, intrusive and poorly placed.
More concentration on the central plot line before trying to feed the Shakespearean references into it might have helped the narrative but, as it stands, William 37 is convoluted and confusing.

By Kate Herbert

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