By PHILIP VAN DIJK and HEATHER SINCICH
By my troth! Another theater performance opened at BYU on Wednesday. This time it is “The Shoemaker’s Holiday,” performed in the Margetts Theatre. Here to give the low-down are Phil and Heather, resident theater critics.
PHIL: I have no shame in saying this play is one of the best plays I have ever seen. Mind you, I have a short-term memory and I will be hard pressed to recall which university I attended five years from now, but I still think this was one of the best plays I have ever seen.
HEATHER: I enjoyed the play but am not as impressed. Maybe it’s because I felt like the cast was shouting at me the whole time. Projection can be carried to extremes in a tiny theater like Margetts. I like the accents though.
PHIL: I am a sucker for a good accent, and this play is full of them. Each actor has his unique accent, and Kathy Biesinger deserves praise for her work with the dialect of each character, not just her fine work as the director.
HEATHER: Overall, the accents are convincing and believable. It took me awhile to get into the “Elizabethan” mode, however. I had a hard time following the plot for the first few minutes. The story is clever and enjoyable but I didn’t laugh a lot. It is funny, but more of a “hmm” funny than a “ha-ha” funny.
PHIL: Each actor and actress seems to have been born to play the roles they did. There was not a single forgotten line or muffed scene. The entire play was fluid.
HEATHER: I noticed a few fumbles, but I tend to be critical. I expect mishaps on a preview night.
PHIL: The set changes are done with class and the players actually incorporate the moving of props into the play itself. There is a chemistry here with this cast. Some actors stand out as being exceptional. Richard J. Clifford (Simon Eyre) is amazing. He lights up the stage with his understanding of the script and his rendition of the character. He belongs in the 1600s. His facial expressions and voice intonation are perfect.
HEATHER: The play is well acted. Clifford is good but his style becomes exaggerated at points. The slapstick portrayal becomes a little tiresome.
PHIL: Chris Bentley (Hodge) is exceptional. He and Benji Smith (Firk) are the two wise-cracking knaves of the “Gentle Craft” (Shoemaking), and add humor and entertainment to the play. Bentley is a natural and seems to be right in his element throughout the entire play. No forcing of lines or exaggerating of gestures. Bentley proves to me that I should not group all actors together with the people who hang out at Denny’s.
Michael Cox (Ralph) embodies the whole spirit of the play. Inspirational, indomitable and passionate, he is the bread-and-butter of this play. He is happiness incarnate in the face of adversity. Wonderfully done.
HEATHER: Cox gets credit for hopping around on one foot after his character loses his leg; however, I think Joel Wallin (Hammon) is more convincing. He has a subtlety that I like.
PHIL: The set is quaint and fits the script well. Credit must be given to Ian Hunter and Karl Pope for a clever and imaginative stage.
HEATHER: The flowers and Elizabethan music enhance the light feel of the play. Margery’s outrageous hats and the elf-like shoes add to the humor of the play as well.
PHIL: Two notable lines from the play that will not soon leave me: “Shame attends delay,” and “Enforced love is worse than hate.”
HEATHER: “The Shoemaker’s Holiday,” reminds me of a Shakespearean comedy. The dialogue is clever and well written.
PHIL: I will add one criticism of the play. It is a little confusing to have Michael Cox play two characters, especially when Christian Bell’s playing two characters is an integral part of the play (he disguises himself).