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Theatre Info for the Richmond region

Henley Street Theatre Wittenberg

By • Apr 1st, 2014 • Category: Reviews
Wittenberg
Henley Street Theatre: (Info) (Web)
Richmond Triangle Players Theatre, Richmond, VA
Through April 19th
2:25 with intermission
$32/$27 Seniors/$17 Students/RAPT
Reviewed March 28th, 2014

One of my favorite cartoons as a kid was “Rocky and Bullwinkle.” What does this have to do with Henley Street Theatre and Richmond Shakespeare’s production of Wittenberg? Part of the old Rocky and Bullwinkle show was a segment called “Fractured Fairy Tales” where they would combine various stories into one. History meets Fractured Fairy Tales in the comedy, Wittenberg.

Star pupil Prince Hamlet attends Wittenberg University circa 1517 in Germany. His professors Doctor Faustus and Reverend Doctor Martin Luther teach philosophy and theology respectively. They each try to use their opposing belief system to help Hamlet solve his emotional angst about his pending kingship, his nightmares and his tennis game, while competing with each other for Hamlet’s heart, mind and soul.

In her introduction, Managing Director Jacqueline O’Connor reminds the audience that the combined theaters produce plays that are rich in language. Wittenberg uses Shakespearean English filled with modern references and plays on words. The fast paced comedy also uses language to explore the human belief system, whether it be religion which speaks to our souls, not our minds; or philosophy which seeks to free the mind.

Each of the four actors gives entertaining performances. Dixon Cashwell is innocent and likeable as the emotionally tortured Hamlet. Jeffrey Cole is charming and energetic as the devilish Faustus and Andrew Hamm is proper, stoic and anal retentive as Martin Luther. Stacie Rearden Hall is multi-talented in the multiple female roles. While at times it is distracting having just one woman play four different parts, Rearden Hall gives each character enough nuance to pull off the “Eternal Feminine” Greek chorus.

Director J. Paul Nicholas uses the intimate staging space at Richmond Triangle Players well, with Tennessee Dixon’s basic multilevel set and enough action within the audience area to keep it interesting. BJ Wilkinson’s lighting design also works well, especially during Hamlet’s nightmare and in a night-time scene.

I must add, philosophically some audience members may find some of the dialog as heretical as Luther’s teachings were in his time. As a part of the Acts of Faith Festival, however, this is certainly one of the most thought-provoking productions this year.

To see or not to see, THAT is the question; and unquestionably this clever and creative comedy makes for a quality evening of entertainment.

Photo Gallery

Dixon Cashwell as Hamlet Jeffrey Cole as Dr. Faustus, Dixon Cashwell as Hamlet, Stacie Rearden Hall as the Eternal Feminine and Andrew Hamm as Martin Luther
Dixon Cashwell as Hamlet
Jeffrey Cole as Dr. Faustus, Dixon Cashwell as Hamlet, Stacie Rearden Hall as the Eternal Feminine and Andrew Hamm as Martin Luther

Photos by Chris Smith

The Cast

  • Hamlet: Dixon Cashwell
  • Dr. Faustus: Jeffrey Cole
  • Martin Luther: Andrew Hamm
  • The Eternal Feminine: Stacie Rearden Hall

The Crew

  • Director: J. Paul Nicholas
  • Production Manager: Austin Cooper
  • Stage Manager: Cameron Tarry
  • Set Design: Tennessee Dixon
  • Costume Design: Jocelyn Bowman
  • Lighting Design: BJ Wilkinson
  • Sound Design: Andrew Craig
  • Properties: Jacquelyn Craig
  • Technical Director: Vinnie Gonzalez
  • Dramaturg: Brittany Ginder
  • Music Director: Andrew Hamm
  • Costume Assistant: Lauren Venezia
  • Wardrobe: Jackie Cook
  • Interns: Kyra Anderson, Amanda Billips, Nick Dauley, Julia McKinnon

Disclaimer: Henley Street Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is by day a Special Education teacher, teaching History, Science and drama to Middle and High School students in a private Day School in Stafford. He has degrees in Educational Media and Special Education. He is also a part time Radio News Anchor and occasional actor in the Richmond area. Bruce is a native of New Jersey and spent most of his "adult" life in Upstate New York, where he started and ran a national award winning youth theater and cable television program for over 10 years. He has lived in Virginia since 2002, and in Caroline County since 2005, where he is active in many community groups; including serving on the Board of Caroline's Promise.

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