Reviewed by Dana Martin
Full Circle Players at The Complex
Ritual, a devised movement piece from Full Circle Players that blends several of the Bard’s more contentious and violent scenes, proves difficult to decipher. The piece, bookended by “Now is the winter of our discontent,” the famously potent opening line from Richard III, suggests that society is at best bloody and disharmonious, treacherous and war-torn.
The audience enters the theatre to find the actors playing childish games, like patty-cake and “I Spy” — activities that do not become the capable young performers and detract from the power and violence they later cultivate. The large cast makes good use of the small space, and their collective movement generates a powerful energy. The use of music, both live and recorded, lends much to the primal quality of the piece.
The team manages to achieve some innovative blends of text, most notably the Queen Mab Speech from Romeo and Juliet, which is interwoven with sonnets and soliloquies and a fresh take on Hamlet’s famous “Get thee to a nunnery” scene (interestingly interspersed with commentary from Polonius and Gertrude). Conversely, an interpretation of Othello that casts a young white actor in the role of the Moor is cringe-worthy.
There are moments of excellence in an otherwise overwrought production. The aspect of ritual seems to present itself through the unified actions of the ensemble, though its use as an overall theme remains unclear.
Complex Theatre, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/4347 Running time: 50 minutes.