Written by 12:13 am Review, Shakespeare by the Sea, Theater, Uncategorized

Shakespeare by the Sea presents: Cardenio or Double Falsehood @ Rush Park in Rossmoor – Review

Photo by Brandon Richardson

Written by Patrick Chavis

Shakespeare by the Sea’s new adaptation of Cardenio or Double Falsehood will be playing at various parks around Los Angeles and Orange County from June 22 to August 4, 2024.

I watched the production at Rush Park in Rossmoor, CA. Productions may vary in different locations and performances. Cardenio or Double Falsehood is one of the more contested Shakespearean tales regarding authorship. Shakespeare by the Sea’s new adaptation from Jonathan Fisher and Anna Miles leans into the mystery of the authorship even more and adds a new modern twist that fits like a glove.

Story:

Cardenio is cited as a tragicomedy or a story containing elements of both comedy and tragedy. The play is set in Spain. Traditionally, it centers around the double falsehoods committed by Henriquez, played by the dashing Roberto Williams, which is where the name comes from. Henriquez is the Duke’s son and is in good social standing. This next part gets rather dark. He’s infatuated with the beautiful Violante, played by the raven-haired Savannah Moffat, who is a commoner. Violante rejects his advances. Instead of moving on, Henriquez rapes Violante. After feeling guilty about it for a little bit, he rationalizes to himself that he did nothing wrong.

Henriquez also betrays the trust of his best friend Julio, played by Mario Silva, by attempting to marry the love of his life, Leonora, played by 2023’s OCR Best Actress in a Musical Amanda Godoy. Usually, this is the story’s central conflict, but with this new adaptation, two new narrators are added to the story to correct and modernize some of the text; Shakespeare, played by Ryon Thomas, and Fletcher, played by Megan Ruble, the theorized writers, bicker about what should happen in the story with hilarious results.    

Story Analysis:

I’ve seen this show before in 2019 and thought it was one of the weaker Shakespearean pieces from The Bard. You can hear my review on LA Theatre Bites if you would like (https://latheatrebites.com/hollywood-fringe-2019-double-falsehood-the-broadwater-in-west-hollywood-review/#google_vignette). LA Theatre Bites is the Los Angeles sister site to the Orange Curtain Review. One of my biggest gripes about the original play is how terrible Henriquez is; he has no redeeming qualities.

If you’ve read or watched Othello, he’s like a dumbed-down Iago. If I were Shakespeare, I would have also made this my lost play. The adapters of this piece, Jonathan Fisher and 2023’s OCR Best Director Anna Miles, have more than rectified this flawed tale, with the fun comedic chemistry between Ryon Thomas as Shakespeare, who has holy music played every time his name is spoken, and the spirited, anxious but passionate and rambunctious Megan Ruble’s Fletcher, who charms his way into your heart.

Set/Costume Design:

We have another wooden design from Christopher Beyries. This one is even simpler than the King Henry IV design—wooden steps with a background that mimics hills and mountains. On the left side of the stage, a wooden table with metal beer cups and several mics placed around the set. The comedic nature of this play and the rapid-fire entrances made this design very conducive to this play in particular.

The costume work from Jefferey Schoenberg is well-fitted and appropriate for the era.  

Acting:

No weak members in this ensemble. Everyone was fantastic. Each actor had a clear idea of the character’s personality and motivations.

Thomas (Shakespeare) and Ruble (Fletcher) are comedy gold and perfect examples of the tension between young and old, but they also show the wonders that can be made when we stop fighting and start working together.  

Mario Silvia brings the laughter with (Julio) and pours on the thick accent in this performance, adding a telenovela sense of humor to Shakespeare I didn’t know I needed. Amanda Godoy brings the noise with a pouty, devil-may-care attitude throughout — excellent delivery and performance.

Roberto’s (Henriquez) humorous and balanced performance helps to connect the piece.  

Great acting, fun Shakespeare, and it’s free. What are you still doing in the house?  

Review
8.5 Overall
0 Users (0 votes)
Story8.6
Acting8.8
Set & Design8
Costumes8.2
Entertainment9
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Great Show! OCR Recommended!

 

 

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