Capital Fringe Review: ‘Violent Delights: A Shakespearean Brawl-esque Sideshow’ by JR Russ

Violent Delights: A Shakespearean Brawl-esque Sideshow, presented by Off the Quill, was a wonderful inaugural piece by the self-identified experimental theater company. The overture sets the stage of being in a circus of violence. But I would recommend taking the time to get there early and reading Patrick Mullen’s Director’s Notes, for some additional context.

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The piece creates a narrative in three acts, exploring the different aspects of violence. And all the players take on certain archetypes, which are actualized by the characters in the series of Shakespearean scenes selected to play a part in this circus. This is a troupe which certainly utilized each performers’ strengths in crafting the piece, but also provided an opportunity for everyone to do a bit of everything, as the physicality didn’t stop with just stage combat, but included clowning, dance, and other movement styles and depictions of violence.

Katie Wanschura (Temperance) steals the show from her first entrance to her final exit, even when she’s not the focus of the scene per se. Keep an eye on her throughout the production, as it relates to the larger story of and struggle with violence. The cast is at its strongest as a whole not when depicting violence, but when playing up the threat of violence, or when reacting to the act of it

If you’re not familiar with Shakespeare, the selected scenes might take a little more time to piece to the larger story. But if you keep track of the themes of each act, that will definitely help. Because although the title of the show might imply that the focus is on the physicality of violence, it is just as much, if not more so, about the philosophy of it, particularly its use on stage for the audience.

Running Time: 75 minutes.

Violent Delights: A Shakespearean Brawl-esque Sideshow, plays through July 26,2013 at the Warehouse – 645 New York Ave NW, in Washington, DC. For performance times and to purchase tickets, visit the show’s Capital Fringe page.


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