Set in the Lab Theatre with a cast comprised of undergraduate students and adapted and directed by theatre teacher Kate Buckley, "Will Power!," which premiered on Thursday evening, delighted the audience with funny skits and compelling interpretations of classic Shakespearean scenes and songs.
Proving that there can be too much of a good thing, "Will Power!" had a variety of scenes that had audience members laughing one moment and pensive the next. Scenes from Shakespearean classics like "Macbeth" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" were performed, all while famous lines like "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day" were quoted. The handful of scenes performed were intriguing and moved quickly, with not a boring moment during the play.
Although the play revolves around the literary works of Shakespeare, anyone could easily enjoy it thanks to the energetic cast and the small yet intimate theater.
Will Shelton, sophomore in English, spent the summer in England watching many of Shakespeare's works being performed and said that even if audience members don't catch all the Shakespearean references, it was still a great show.
"Since it wasn't exactly so much a plot as it was Shakespeare's most quoted (works) and stuff like that, the (audience) may be a little lost," Shelton said. "But it is still enjoyable to watch because the actors and actresses did a very good job with the material."
The cast, which was only comprised of six undergraduate students with focuses in theatre, makes for an amazing performance. If not for their distinct personalities on stage, the show would have lacked the quality that made it great.
The actors connected to the audience and related to Shakespeare's pieces.
Additionally, the cast performed a few of Shakespeare's original songs. Not the most popular among the literary legend's work, the songs were riveting when performed by the cast and had a raw and authentic quality to them. Shelton appreciated the songs being included in the play.
"Shakespeare's songs, since he didn't really write any music to them, can be interpreted and adapted in any way, so I thought they did a really good job as far as the adaptations went," Shelton said.
Considering the size of the Lab Theatre, the space for an elaborate set may have felt overwhelming and even uncomfortable for the cast and the audience, which is why the design for "Will Power!" was perfectly done.
The wide stage was accompanied by a large tree sculpture which was covered with aged pages of Shakespeare's plays, and on the other side there was a simple bench. Utilized by cast members in interesting ways, they would sometimes lay down on it and sometimes stand on it, the bench essentially making the performance feel real. It was more than just a prop but a key way for the cast to prove a method in the madness.
The costume design for "Will Power!" was another expertly done aspect of the performance. Featuring old English style dresses and puffed-shoulder jackets, the costumes were uniform throughout the play but showed up in different and distinct ways.
Although the actors wore regular clothes to begin with, they gradually wore the specifically designed costumes over their regular clothes, which added more depth and quality to the overall feel of the performance.
"Will Power!" is skillfully done, from the multi-functional set and use of costumes to the cast performances to the scenes and monologues chosen to be a part of the play. When the play ended and the actors took their bows, "Will Power!" confirmed the saying,"All's well that ends well."
Shelton said he had his doubts but appreciated the play as a whole.
"For the first five minutes I was thinking more about 'let's see if the performers get their lines more than anything,' but they ... pulled it off really well," Shelton said. "I think the Globe and the Royal Shakespeare theatre(s) would have been proud."
"Will Power!" will play at the Clarence Brown Lab Theatre until Nov. 11. For show times and ticket information, visit the Clarence Brown Theatre online at www.clarencebrowntheatre.com.