Where do 300 words go? The cast for Windfall Theatre’s staging of Wittenberg consists of four people. 4 people and one story in 300 words...ugh...anyway... here’s what didn’t make it into my review of David Davalos’ comedy set on the campus of a 16th century german university populated by some legendary characters.
Davalos’ decision to make Dr. Faustus into a kind of an irreverent tenured rockstar at the university is clever. The man who made a pact with the devil is kind of like the first heavy metal guy. Bo Johnson fits the roll quite well with long, grey hair and a musician’s look about him onstage. (In addition to be ing a seasoned actor, he’s in the local band Random Maxx.) Johnson has a really sharp grasp of the script the extends into clever comic instincts when delivering some of Davalos’ more subtle humor.
Martin Luther as Dark, Brooding Intellectual Superhero
Emmitt Morgans plays the legendary Martin Luther as a very charismatically heroic character. Davalos casts the character a something of a dark and tortured superhero. Luther is altruistically searching for a truth beyond a church that would steal money from its members in the form of indulgences. Morgans has a lithe charisma in the role that almost feels like it could lean over in the direction of an action hero. There’s no sense of higher-than-thou authority that so often plagues dramatic representations of holy men. It’s a really cool approach to the character being instigated by Davalos and executed by Morgans.
Hamlet Before Hamlet
Kyle Conner is a traditional Hamlet occasionally stumbling upon some of Shakespeare’s greatest lines in the school year leading-up to the events described in Shakespeare’s play. His studying with Copernicus in Poland prior to the events of this play is kind of a stroke of genius on the part of the playwright. Very cool stuff here. It’s one of the most seriosu roles in the play and it would easily get lost in all the comedy were it not for Conner’s overwhelmingly sympathetic performance here.
Jocelyn Ridgely Should Get More Work--She's Really Good
I’ve only sen her show-up around the edges of plays occasionally since I first saw her in a show with the late Bialystock and Bloom half a lifetime ago, but every time I see Jocelyn Ridgely in a show I kind of wish she could show-up in everything. She plays a series of roles here listed as being The Eternal Feminine. Yes, she plays a central figure for Faustus and the angelic mother of a certain legendary carpenter talking to Hamlet in a vision, but my favorite Ridgely in this show was a server at a bar. There’s a casual cleverness to her characterization of a casual 15th century working girl who is being taken advantage of by the church just like everybody else. It’s strikingly casual earthbound cleverness that she’s delivering here and it’s a great deal of fun around the edges of the show.
Windfall Theatre’s production of Wittenberg runs through Oct. 14 at Village Church Arts on 130 E. Juneau Ave. For ticket reservations and more, visit windfalltheatre.com. My concise review of the show runs in the next print edition of The Shepherd-Express.