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Seven strapping men in swashbuckler shirts

“Critics Choice” – March 31, 2006


The Chicago Reader
3-31-2006

Seven strapping men in swashbuckler shirts improvise a two-act Shakespearean play based on a title suggested by the audience. At the show I saw, ‘The Taming of the Jew’ inspired the Bard’s usual themes (religion, family, betrayal) and plot devices (murders, disguises, fortunes gained/lost) as well as an uncomfortably funny circumcision. Director-performer Blaine Swen, a veteran of long-form Shakespearean improv who swears they don’t conspire during the intermission, has assembled a vigorous ensemble of actors and proven improvisers. Their experience doing Shakespeare flowers in the language: they relish iambic dialogue, execute perfectly timed asides, occasionally utter rhyming couplets (some hilariously forced: “Let us be quick-sa, and get to the bar mitzvah!”), and drop parodic phrases (“scurvenous knave,” “midfortnight report”) and well-placed anachronisms (the bar mitzvah had a DJ). Even the ending echoed the real plays: story lines resolved tidily—and uproariously. –Ryan Hubbard




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