By: Walter Ruff
When Will Shakspere’s wife (Valerie Fenton) exclaims that it really doesn’t matter who wrote Shakespeare’s plays we really have the essence of The Beard Of Avon. It is the love of theatre and how that love propels the artistic process that is really important. This mounting of Amy Feed’s whodunit comedy, while done on a budget, is a feast for the senses. Brilliant colors, exuberant voices and flamboyant costumes all combine with the cast’s enthusiasm to provide a great evening of smart, funny theatre. Literally everything in this production is a sum of the whole and the whole doth shine! The “tribe” at Rorschach Theatre, with zealousness that clearly makes a difference, brings bawdy laughter and sassy displays of comic brilliance to Casa Del Pueblo, an old Methodist Church in Columbia Heights.
The entire cast provided wonderfully exhilarating performances that had the audience snickering with each deftly delivered comic moment. Grady Weatherford’s eager to please Will stands out as worthy of recognition. Eric Singdahlsen is impeccable as Edward DeVere and Valerie Fenton is warmly endearing as Anne Hathaway. Wendy Wilmer’s persnickety portrayal of Queen Elizabeth was simply sublime. The remainder of the cast is delightful as well; Scott McCormick’s (Heminge/Burleigh) booming vocal delivery creates a rock solid stage presence and Andrew Jessop in dual roles as Geoffrey Dunderbread and Lady Lettuce also gives a stand out performance.
Set changes are smoothly handled and lighting effects were perfectly executed. I was especially impressed with Jenn Miller’s excellent Elizabethan period costumes. David C. Ghatan does a good job making full use of Casa Del Pueblo’s space.
The love of theatre is the prevailing theme in Rorschach’s latest production and it is quite clear that is what drives this company of very talented performers. Guaranteed laughs and a wonderful evening of theatre await if you have tickets for The Beard of Avon, if you don’t get them.
The Beard of Avon, by Amy Freed. Directed by Jessica Burgess. Sets and lighting, David C. Ghatan; costumes, Jenn Miller; sound, Matthew Frederick; original music, Jesse Terrill. With Austin Bragg, Brent Stansell. Through Nov. 20 at the Sanctuary Theatre at Casa del Pueblo Methodist Church, 1459 Columbia Rd. NW. Call 800-494-8497 or visit http://www.boxofficetickets.com/rorschach.