Grant Schumann as Oswald, Peter Middlecamp as Sir Gawain, and Cassie McNally as Clovis. Photo by Ty Sassaman.

King Arthur: A Picnic Operetta

by SOPHIE KERMAN There is a danger in having a formula that works as well as Mixed Precipitation‘s annual picnic operettas. We know the recipe hits all the right notes (so to speak): first, start with an operetta – guaranteed good-quality music – and add in some more contemporary songs and an anti-corporate message to reach a target audience of modern adults…

Paul Weisman and Maika Isogawa in "Neverland". Photo by Dan Norman.

Neverland

by SOPHIE KERMAN As a source text for a youth circus production, you can’t get much better than Peter Pan. Neverland is a country of eternal youth and constant adventure, and circus arts rekindle our sense of incredulity in a way that not many other forms of theatre can match. Maybe the death-defying leaps, staggering feats…

Stripe and Spot

Stripe and Spot (learn to) Get Along

by SOPHIE KERMAN Summer sees a nice trend in the Twin Cities: just like local produce, theater starts to appear that is local, affordable, and fresher than your average mass-market products. Mixed Precipitation does it with their annual Picnic Operettas, the Classical Actors Ensemble takes Shakespeare to the parks, and Off-Leash Area has their garage tour. I was lucky enough to preview their new…

Kathryn O'Reilly, Anna Tierney, Victoria Gee, Tom Andrews, Jessica Tomchak, and Sam Graham in "Our Country's Good". Photo by Robert Workman.

Our Country’s Good

by SOPHIE KERMAN “Theatre,” says Governor Phillip early on in Our Country’s Good, “is an expression of civilization.” In Timberlake Wertenbaker‘s 1988 play, now on the Guthrie Theater‘s McGuire Proscenium Stage, certainly makes a case that theatre has the power to provide dignity and self-respect in the most abject places. Set in 1788 in New South Wales (now Australia), the play…

Maggie Chestovich, Ashley Rose Montondo and Georgia Cohen in "Crimes of the Heart". Photo by Joan Marcus.

Crimes of the Heart

by SOPHIE KERMAN There is a line between dark comedy and laughing at others’ misfortune, and the Guthrie‘s production of Crimes of the Heart has crossed it. This high-energy, highly theatrical interpretation of Beth Henley‘s 1978 Southern Gothic play gives the audience a healthy dose of belly laughs, and if that is what you want, then fine: but this…

Hamlet

Hamlet

by SOPHIE KERMAN A lot of theater companies and filmmakers seem to think that in order to make Shakespeare comprehensible to modern audiences, they need to place his plays in a modern setting. But it turns out that – wait for it, this might come as a surprise – Shakespeare was actually a really great writer of the English…

Michael Milligan in "Mercy Killers". Photo by Michal Daniel.

Mercy Killers

by SOPHIE KERMAN Testimonial theatre, particularly when created for a political purpose, is fraught with danger. Actors run the ethical risks of co-opting someone else’s story, as well as the theatrical risks of not being able to do that story justice. And then there is the challenge of avoiding heavy-handedness when it comes to the play’s…