Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) opened April 3 at the Bernie Legge Theatre in New Westminster, where the award-winning play will run until April 19. Audiences at the preview performances raved about this entertaining and engaging production. Exceptionally well-acted and visually appealing, the play is a fantastic comedic romp through the world of Shakespeare, made even more hilarious by the reactions of the modern-day heroine who finds herself transported to the worlds of Othello and Romeo and Juliet.
What is truly enchanting about Desdemona is the lovable heroine, a sympathetic underdog, who embarks on a quest for an unknown author and ultimately finds that it is her own pen that turns to gold. Her journey of self-discovery is every bit as human as that of Shakespeare’s heroes and heroines, and amid the fun and frolic, the story is touching and appealing.
Karryn Ransom is outstanding as Constance Ledbelly, the transported academic, and her bravura performance is something that every theatre lover should put on their must-see list. She is supported by an exceptionally fine cast of actors in the various Shakespearean roles.
The versatility of the cast is impressive. Chris Fofonoff is a deliciously flamboyant Othello in the Cyprus segment; then he returns for the Verona scenes to deliver a hysterically funny performance as Juliet’s nurse. One minute, Rose MacNeil is a magnificent Amazonian Desdemona; the next, she plays the fiery and impetuous Mercutio. MacNeil also has a very lovely voice which is used to great effect at the start of the ballroom scene in Verona.
Kurtis Maguire gives dash and vitality to the feisty Tybalt, but also romps through the role of a knowing ghost who helps Constance in her quest. Alex Ross delivers a wonderfully sinster performance as the scheming Iago, and Boris Bilic and Carly June Friesen provide tremendous fun as Romeo and Juliet, saved from calamity and forced to live with each other when they are far more interested in finding new adventures. Every one of these actors give stellar performances in their main roles, yet adeptly handle other parts throughout the play.
Desdemona has won many awards, including the Governor General’s award, and the audience’s reaction to the Vagabond Players’ production makes one understand why. The play demands top-notch performers—and some top-notch technical wizardry too, handled with great flair by lighting and set designer, Matt Davenport. The clever script is so full of fascinating twists and turns that every viewing seems to offer something new and interesting to think about.
Ably directed by Michael Parker, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) is a must for theatre lovers everywhere. Shows run April 3 – 19, Thursday – Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm. The Bernie Legge Theatre, Queens Park, New Westminster. Tickets are $15, or $13 for seniors and students. For reservations, call 604-521-0412. An additional performance will be held on May 4 at Metro Theatre as part of the Theatre B.C. Greater Vancouver Zone Festival.
[box]Photographs by Craig Premack.[/box]