"The Loves of Shakespeare’s Women"
Fairfield Theatre Company, Fairfield
As one-person shows, York has the best of collaborators, and there is no question that the love affair between the actress and William Shakespeare is deep, genuine and affecting. But, measured against the numerous single-actor shows that have graced the New York stage recently (“I Am My Own Wife,” for example, and “Golda’s Balcony”), this one is weakened by lack of a through line. There is no sense that the piece makes a single strong statement, though York claims that the central theme is love, that the Shakespearean women she has chosen are all motivated by love.
Still, Shakespeare is Shakespeare, and York does him justice in her series of excerpts. With a minimal set, a stage that is practically bare, York does it all with words. The word is all.
And her characters come to life vividly. She has taken a collection of the playwright’s women and presents each one in a single telling passage, with each character quickly, effectively introduced. She intersperses each of these mini-performances with brief, limited comments on her own life and work. One learns that York had her start at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, that she has been married, that she spent years away from Shakespeare, pursuing a career in film and theatre. (But York, one gets the feeling is a very private person, and this information is given sparingly.)
Among the 16 characters are such as Juliet (“Romeo and Juliet”), Rosalind (“As You Like It”), Lady MacBeth (“Macbeth”), and Gertrude (“Hamlet”). Why York has selected the particular passages is hard to say, but they do provide her with the opportunity to show off her considerable skills and versatility. She is the young, eager, rash Juliet, the caustic, witty Beatrice, the hoydenish Rosalind, the fiercely ambitious Lady Macbeth. Each has her moment in the sun. Yet, as she gets into Gertrude as the suffering queen or the scary Lady Macbeth, one longs for the total play rather than snippets. One can hardly get emotionally involved, given these brief moments. The result is a show that presents a brief glimpse into masterly character depiction and skilled performances.
it a taste of Shakespeare by one of its best presenters.
-- Irene Backalenick
Jan. 27, 2005