Little did I know, when I entered The Shop at Fort Fringe, that I was about to witness a beautiful expression of some of Shakespeare’s most noteworthy relationships. Through sign language, spoken verse, and physical movement, the cast takes the audience through a number of different relationships, from the comic, to the bittersweet, to the sincere. UNcontentED Love is about relationships, both the good and the bad, taken from works of Shakespeare.
As the lights come up, we see Colin Analco, James Caverly, Sandra Mae Frank, Aaron Halleck, Amelia Hensley, Annette McAllister, Michael Sprouse and Carrie Suggs in one of a number of tableaus, spread across the stage simultaneously. They hold each pose just long enough for it to register with the audience. Thus we meet pairings from Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Othello.
At times, I was absolutely moved by the physicality of the actors. The range of emotion they were able to portray was astonishing. There were moments when I couldn’t stop laughing, and other moments when the beauty of the actors’ movements touched me. The physicality was perfectly timed to the lines of text, making for an organic sensory experience.
However, there were moments in which I felt on the outside of the performance. While I could follow a number of the sections which were performed bodily, without any spoken verse, I found some of the sections without verse to drag on a bit, leaving me wondering what had happened. These moments were few, but there were enough of them that I missed out on whole sections of the performance. I understand that the two actors carrying the brunt of the speech could not carry the entire production, but maybe those long physical moments could be re-worked to speak to a larger audience.
Directors Tim “Popper” Chamberlain and Monique “Momo” Holt used their space creatively. The actors signing and physically embodying the text were always put at the forefront of the audience’s attention. There were intimate scenes, in which the actor speaking was standing in the shadows upstage, which made for an ominous effect. At another point, the actress was on a platform at the back of the house, speaking as the action unfolded.
As the play draws to a close, we re-visit each of the couples we have witnessed, as an actor center stage recites Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30. The final couplet leaves the audience with a beautiful sentiment. “But while I think on thee, dear friend, All losses are restored and sorrows end.” To think that no matter what the relationship, upon thinking of one’s lover, all sorrow ends, is a very romantic notion to juxtapose some of the troubled relationships that we have just seen.
As the program notes state, “This is not Shakespeare in Love.”
directed by Tim “Popper” Chamberlain and Monique “Momo” Holt
reviewed by Rick Westerlake
Running time: 60 minutes
Read all the reviews and check out the full Capital Fringe schedule here.
Did you see the show? What did you think?