CurtainUp
CurtainUp
The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings
HOME PAGE

SITE GUIDE

SEARCH


REVIEWS

REVIEW ARCHIVES

ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP

FEATURES

NEWS
Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


LISTINGS
Broadway
Off-Broadway

NYC Restaurants

BOOKS and CDs

OTHER PLACES
Berkshires
London
California
New Jersey
DC
Philadelphia
Elsewhere

QUOTES

TKTS

PLAYWRIGHTS' ALBUMS

LETTERS TO EDITOR

FILM

LINKS

MISCELLANEOUS
Free Updates
Masthead
A CurtainUp Review
Women of Will

Starting March 19th, Packer and Gore's exploration of the Shakespeare canon will feature a series of Tuesday talkbacks, each with a different moderator. Shakespeare Society member and Curtainup's own Shakespeare expert Deirdre Donovan will moderate the Tuesday May 7th talkback.
Marathon enthusiasts take note. Deirdre covered Packer and Gore's weekend marathon. Here's a link to her take on Women of Will The Complete Journey Women of Will 5-part Marathon
"So, from where I stand as a 21st Century woman Kate would either be manic, or gone to a baby doll cuteness to avoid the whole issue (like Marilyn Monroe) or she'd be clinically depressed, so I am going to do the last speech again, all three ways. "— Tina Packer commenting on the character Katharine in Women of Will.
Women of Will
Tina Packer and Nigel Gore
Tina Packer's is not the same old Shakespearean spinach but a penetrating look at some of the Bard's most fascinating women. It goes a long way toward revealing how each female personage ticks.

Packer and her on stage colleague Nigel Gore present a mindful mosaic of Shakespeare's grande dames, harridans, and vital young women in search of their more mature selves. The script interweaves famous set pieces with astute commentary on Shakespeare's life and how his female creations uncannily charted his growth as a playwright.

Women of Will has been evolving for 15 years. It began its life at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts . Try outs while she was still Artistic Director included The Overview in the summer of 2010 and The Complete Journey in the summer of 2011. Encouraged by favorable notices, the project took on even sturdier stage legs with mountings in Boston and in its entirety at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Since then, it has traveled to the Prague Shakespeare Festival in Prague, Czech Republic. And through it all Packer kept fine tuning the piece before its current New York premiere at the Gym at Judson.

Shaking off their Elizabethan dust, Shakespeare's female personages look and sound mighty fresh in Women of Will. And there's a reason why. The British born Packer who is making her New York debut is a seasoned classical actor who has performed and worked with the likes of Ian McKellan, John Barton, B. H. Barry, John Broome, and Trish Arnold. Without a trace of self-consciousness, she dives in with gusto to play the 15 year-old Juliet even though it's a bit bit of a stretch for her to convincingly embody the Bard's younger women who include Katharine (she of the feisty tongue and shrewish nature), the witty Rosalind, and the life-giving Marina. She plumbs to even greater depths when portraying the French soldier Joan, the she-wolf Margaret, and the ambitious Lady Macbeth.

Packer, who confesses to having a long-time affinity with Shakespeare's historical women, is clearly at her best with the icons of yesteryear. She is especially on the mark as the sinister Margaret of the Henry 6 plays, re-enacting that horrific moment when the queen mockingly places a paper crown on York's head, humiliating and condemning him to death by beheading. Gore, who plays the male characters and at first seems a mere foil suddenly comes alive here as York, fiercely confronting Margaret with her inhumanity: "O tiger's heart wrapt in a woman's hide." Indeed it doesn't get any crueler than this in Shakespeare's canon, and Packer nails it with panache.

With the audience seated around the stage on three sides there's a welcome intimacy to this production,. To preserve its simplicity, Valerie Therese Bart has kept set and costume design spare. An elegant oriental rug is spread across the performing space and plush cushions mark the edges of the stage. Packer and Gore wear comfortable-looking clothes and the occasional flowing robes for royal figures. While most of the action occurs in the main performing space, Bart has created a makeshift balcony for the famous balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.

Les Dicker provides clean lighting for the lectures and more shaded tones for the cameo performances that punctuate the presentation. Daniel Kluger's sound design enhances the mood and atmosphere of each scene without overshadowing the actors' mellifluous voices. Under Eric Tucker's direction the combined efforts of everyone add up to a very natural overall effect. It's as if the audience is sitting around an ancient campfire, hanging on each word of the storyteller.

I could point to some faults but they're mere quibbles in this feast. Suffice it to say, that some of the commentary could be trimmed a whiff, with perhaps one of the monologues for the younger women cut for a more streamlined effect.

Anyone who has ever been to Shakespeare & Company in Lenox knows that Packer and her colleagues have created a wonderful place for presenting new plays as well as fresh interpretations of Shakespeare's plays Just last summer Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis starred as Prospera in a retooled of The Tempest. Having turned the baton over to her long-time colleague Tony Simotes, Packer is now breaking new dramatic ground for herself as an actor-playwright. And she manages to pull it off with elan, balancing performance with vital commentary on the trajectory of the Bard's career.

This two and a half hour Women of Will is a prelude to its more expansive five-part version later this season. Shakespeare lovers won't want to miss this marathon.

Women of Will
Written by Tina Packer
Directed by Eric Tucker
Cast: Tina Packer, Nigel Gore.
Sets and costumes: Valerie Therese Bart
Sound: Daniel Kluger
Lighting: Les Diskert
Stage Manager: Katherine Whitney
The Gym at Judson, 243 Thompson Street (at Washington Square South). Tickets: $75. Tickets can be purchased online at www.WomanOfWill.com or by calling TheaterMania at 212-352-3101.
From 1/29/13; opening 2/03/13; closing 6/02/13.
Tuesdays @ 7pm; Wednesdays through Fridays @ 8pm; Saturdays @ 2pm and 8pm; Sundays @ 3pm.
Running time: 2 hours; 30 minutes including intermission
Reviewed by Deirdre Donovan based on press performance of 1/30/13
REVIEW FEEDBACK
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of ¬†Women of Will
  • I disagree with the review of Women of Will
  • The review made me eager to see¬†Women of Will
Click on the address link E-mail: esommer@curtainup.com
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

Visit Curtainup's Blog Annex
For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add http://curtainupnewlinks.blogspot.com to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter
Subscribe to our FREE email updates: E-mail: esommer@curtainup.comesommer@curtainup.com
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message. If you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows- view 1st episode free




Anything Goes Cast Recording Anything Goes Cast Recording
Our review of the show

Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show
amazon




©Copyright 2013, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from esommer@curtainup.com