When, years ago, I sat through my Shakespeare course at UBC, I remember youthfully railing at the annoying twists of fate in Romeo and Juliet. The play, as our textbook described it, was “a succession of unlucky mischances”, and it was always tempting to think what might have happened if any one of the accidents of fate had been averted.  Equally frustrating was Othello’s obtuseness which allowed his envious ensign to ruin an otherwise happy marriage.  I never thought that all these years later I’d be production manager for a show that played with the plots that had so irked me when I first read the Shakespeare plays.  However, here I am, working on Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) and enjoying all the clever quips and quirks that have delighted audiences ever since the award-winning play premiered in 1988.

Karryn Ransom as Constance
Karryn Ransom as Constance

Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) is great fun.  The playwright has not only taken those exasperating old plots in new directions, but has combined them into a witty and engaging comedy with an entertaining plotline of its own.  MacDonald has created an endearing heroine in Constance Ledbelly, the lovelorn academic who is convinced that two of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies were actually comedies.  Constance believes she knows the source of the plays, and after devastating disappointments in love and academia, she is magically transported into the Bard’s world of Othello and Romeo & Juliet.  Once there, she saves Desdemona and Juliet from their scripted deaths, but their lives shoot off into directions that she never envisioned and she finds herself alarmingly entrenched in the plot.  There are twists galore, not to mention fights, seductions and hilarious gender-bender surprises.  Every moment is a delicious frolic through time and space.

An outstanding cast!

Directed by Michael Parker, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) features an impressive lineup of talented performers.  Karryn Ransom stars as a very appealing Constance and she is joined by Chris Fofonoff , Kurtis Maguire, Alex Ross, Boris Bilic, Carly June Friesen and Rose McNeil— an outstanding cast of actors in the various Shakespearean roles. Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) runs April 3 – 19, 2014, Thursday to Saturday – 8:00 pm, Sunday matinees – 2:00 pm, The Bernie Legge Theatre, Queens Park, New Westminster, Tickets: $15.00, Seniors/Students: $13,Two-for-one previews on April 3 & 4, Reservations: 604-521-0412 or book online: reservations@vagabondplayers.ca

[box]Poster design and cast photograph by Alison Main-Tourneur.[/box]

Goodnight Desdemona – Playing with the Plays