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We invite you to review the plays you’ve seen at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. You can write comments about the play, or just give it a star rating. Once a week, we’ll use all the reviews to calculate the average star rating for each play, and we’ll display the highest rated play.

Added on 16 Apr 14

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Across the universe

Meg Murry is the quintessential square peg: a middle-school math whiz with glasses and a short temper. But when she and her strangely gifted little brother set off to find their missing father, they’re catapulted across time and space to a world where being different isn’t just an annoyance—it can cost you your life. Even with the help of curious otherworldly beings, Meg will have to conjure every power she can find, and then some, to put her family back together. OSF presents a new adaptation of this mind-expanding science fiction story that’s still a favorite with the young and young at heart.

The Story

One stormy night, Meg Murry can’t sleep after yet another bad day at school she ends up downstairs having a late-night snack with her scientist mother and Charles Wallace, her genius five-year-old brother. They are joined, unexpectedly, by Mrs. Whatsit—a mysterious old woman, dressed in layers of rags, who has recently moved into the haunted house in the woods near the Murrys.

Mrs. Whatsit only stays for a short while, but she startles Mrs. Murry by telling her that there are such things as tesseracts, or wrinkles in time and space that one can travel through. Meg’s father, a brilliant physicist who has been missing for more than a year, had been studying that very idea before his disappearance.

The following day, Charles Wallace and Meg visit Mrs. Whatsit in the woods, along with Meg’s schoolmate Calvin. The three are introduced ot Mrs. Who, who tells them that she, Mrs. Whatsit and their friend Mrs. Which—who are magical shape-shifting beings who just appear to be old women—will help Meg find and rescue her father. To do so, they will have to tesser–travel rapidly across wrinkles in space—to combat the evil Black Thing that is threatening the whole universe.

To get Mr. Murry back, they must travel to the planet Camzotz, which has already succumbed to the Black Thing’s brainwashing, making everyone think and act the same. For their rescue mission to be a success, Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin must all come to grips with their unique strengths and weaknesses—and discover the power of the strong bond they share.

April 16 – November 1, 2014
Angus Bowmer Theatre

Added on 26 Mar 14

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We are family

A janitor. A software mogul. A college grad. An IRS paper-pusher. Although they live thousands of miles apart, these four people share a secret: They’re recovering addicts who’ve found a safe haven in an online chat room. There, with liberal doses of jokes and bullying, they help each other navigate the broken terrain of their lives. But when an Iraq War vet’s tragedy spills over into their cyberhome, everything changes. In this fearless, groundbreaking Pulitzer Prize–winner, worlds virtual and real unfold onstage, challenging our notions of family, forgiveness, community and courage.

The Story

It’s been six years since Elliot Ortiz was shipped off to Iraq. Now back home with a leg injury, the 24-year old former Marine and aspiring actor is struggling to make ends meet working at a Subway sandwich shop. He’s also caring for the ailing Ginny, who adopted Elliot when his biological mother—Odessa, Ginny’s sister—couldn’t care for him. Ginny is the matriarch of Elliot’s extended Puerto Rican family, an intrepid gardener, community organizer and an anchor in their troubled neighborhood of North Philadelphia.

Elliot is haunted by the memory of an Iraqi man he encountered during the war. He seeks out the help of an Arabic professor, whom he meets through his cousin Yaz, to help translate a phrase the Iraqi man said to him, which he hasn’t been able to forget. The translation doesn’t provide comfort, and Elliot continues to struggle—literally and figuratively—with his memories of this man and his time at war.

Yaz is a high-achieving composer and academic, the one who made it out of the barrio and got an education. She thought she’d be a tenured professor by 30, but instead she’s going to a divorce and working as an adjunct music instructor. Together, she and Elliot try to support each other through Ginny’s illness and subsequent death without much assistance from the other members of their family.

Odessa is a recovering crack addict living “one notch above squalor.” But as the creator and site administrator of a chat room for other recovering addicts, Odessa (who goes by Haikumom) plays a critical role in her online community. She serves as a kind of den mother for this eclectic group that includes Chutes&Ladders, an African-American adoptee; Orangutan, an Asian-American adoptee; and Fountainhead, a once-successful computer programmer and entrepreneur now struggling to get clean. While their interactions take place primarily online, their commitment to each other is real, as one by one, each reaches out and asks for help.

Odessa watches over her online charges, censoring their outbursts, pushing then to take care of themselves and each other. But when it comes to her own family members—who demand she contribute to the funeral expenses for her sister—she has less to offer. Crippled by her guild over her failure to take care of her children, and hamstrung by her meager resources, Odessa is unable to step up, leading to a confrontation with Elliot that pushes her to the brink. And in the aftermath of Ginny’s death, the remaining members of the Ortiz clan must make sense of where they belong—since it was always Ginny’s garden, Ginny’s kitchen and Ginny’s plastic-covered sofa that signified home.

Runs March 26 – June 20 and September 3 – November 2, 2014
Thomas Theatre

Added on 22 Feb 14

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Double double trouble

Antipholus and his servant, Dromio, go looking for family they lost years ago. Traveling from the rural South, they journey to the big city and find themselves in the heart of the Harlem Renaissance. And surprise! Suddenly there are two identical Antipholi and two identical Dromios, which has everybody in town (including significant others) seeing double. To make matters worse, another family member is about to be executed for breaking local law. Laughs fly as the clock ticks in Shakespeare’s farce about the craziest family reunion ever.

The Story

Years ago, the merchant Egeon was sailing with his wife, twin sons and twin servants when a shipwreck divided his family. He, along with one twin son and one servant, was rescued by a passing ship; a separate ship saved his wife and the other twin son and servant. Egeon and his one son and servant settled in Syracuse.

Now an adult, Egeon’s son Antipholus of Syracuse (hereafter Antipholus S.) sets out with his servant Dromio of Syracuse (hereafter Dromio S.) to find their lost brothers. When they fail to return, Egeon begins to search for them, his other son and servant and his wife. His search brings him to Ephesus, a town traditionally hostile to Syracuse. Each town has decreed death to any citizen from the rival precint. Egeon is discovered, and Duke Solinus sentences him to death. Egeon accepts his impending death as a means to end his grief and misery. Hearing this, Solinus extends a one-day stay of execution to allow Egeon to raise bail money to save himself.

Antipholus S. and Dromio S. arrive in Ephesus on the same day as Egeon, and the master sends his servant to put away some money for safekeeping at their inn. Shortly, Dromio of Ephesus (hereafter Dromio E.) runs into the visiting Antipholus. Thinking him his master, he urges him to return home posthaste for dinner. Antipholus S. asks Dromio E. if the money is safe. Confused, he denies knowledge of any money, and gets beaten for his pains.

Waiting, as always, for her husband, Antipholus of Ephesus (hereafter Antipholus E.), Adriana and her sister Luciana discuss the plight of married women. Adriana’s servant, Dromio E., interrupts and recounts his strange encounter with the man he thinks is his master. Adriana sets out to fetch her husband and encounters the visiting Antipholus and Dromio and brings them home. When the local Antipholus and Dromio arrive home, they find themselves locked out. Enraged, Antipholus E. goes to a courtesan and promises her the gold chain he’d intended for his wife.

Antipholus S. courts Luciana, who rejects his advances because she believes he is her sister’s husband. Antipholus E. is arrested for refusing to pay for the gold chain that was mistakenly delivered to his twin brother earlier that day. The courtesan demands Antipholus S. give her the promised chain. Convinced the town is filled with witchcraft (as is Ephesus’ reputation), he and Dromio S. try to escape. They find sanctuary in a nearby priory with the Abbess.

Meanwhile, Adriana, Luciana and the courtesan hire Dr. Pinch to cure Antipholus and Dromio E. of what they perceive as madness, and the doctor takes the pair away. But they escape and meet their household outside the priory. Duke Solinus enters with Egeon on his way to be executed, and the Abbess appears with Antipholus and Dromio S. The family reunion is completed, which includes a revelation that Egeon’s wife is the Abbess. Solinus pardons Egeon. —-Otis Ramsey-Zoe

February 20 – November 2, 2014
Thomas Theatre

Added on 22 Feb 14

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Rating: 3.4/5 (13 votes cast)

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Sun, sand and shtick

The service stinks but the gags are four-star in this Marx Brothers romp. Groucho owns a bum hotel in Florida and peddles dubious real estate to gullible Northerners seeking a place in the sun. He’s after a rich society dame, who’s after an eligible match for her daughter, who’s in love with the hotel’s head clerk. Trouble rolls in with the tide when the other Marxes arrive and mama’s eligible match turns out to be anything but. Mark Bedard (Groucho in 2012’s Animal Crackers) will adapt this jazz-age gem with songs by Irving Berlin.

The Story

At the Cocoanut Hotel, Polly Potter, the daughter of a rich widow, has become romantically attached to Jamison, the hotel’s clerk. Florida is in the middle of a land boom, but Jamison reveals to Polly that the property around the hotel is too hilly to be developed conventionally. As an aspiring architect, however, he has dreamt up innovative ways to build on the difficult terrain.

Mrs. Potter wants Polly to stop seeing Jamison and start dating the seemingly respectable Harvey Yates. Meanwhile, Hammer, the hotel’s proprietor, tries to interest Mrs. Potter in buying the nearby “Cocoanut Manor” property.

Yates, conniving with a disreputable old chum of his, Penelope, concocts a complicated plan to steal Mrs. Potter’s diamond necklace, which is hidden in her room next to Penelope’s.

That night, various parties enter and exit Penelope’s and Mrs. Potter’s adjoining suites. Penelope is able to nab the necklace. But Silent Sam, unseen, discovers where she and Harvey plan to hide the purloined treasure.

Hammer enlists Willie to help drive up bids at the Cocoanut Manor auction, but the plan and Jamison bid for the same lot. Jamison prevails. But just then, the theft of Mrs. Potter’s necklace is announced. Mrs. Potter gets her necklace back, but the wrong man is arrested!

Mrs. Potter insists now that Polly become engaged to Harvey. She plans an elaborate engagement party at the hotel. This smart event becomes the setting where, with any luck, wrongs will be righted and true love triumph.

February 16 – November 2, 2014
Angus Bowmer Theatre

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