The title alone would make a playgoer very aware of a twist on Shakespeare. I do not think I was prepared for all the modern twisting that would go on and the comedy that would develop. Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), written by Ann-Marie MacDonald in 1998, was performed here at K this past weekend.
With typical Shakespearean elements like impersonation and mistaken identity, all of the essentials come together for a riotous event. The actors create the cohesion of both plays seamlessly. From the very first scene, Juliet and Desdemona are placed beside one another as tragic characters that came to equally tragic ends.
Such tragedy is then countered with the comedy present throughout the remainder of the performance. This is comedy that points out its own comedy as the protagonist Constance Ledbelly, played by Grace Gilmore ’15, searches for the fool as proof of the original comedic intent for both Othello and Romeo and Juliet.
Comedy is used in both senses, not simply as an ancient form of drama but as a modern comedy as well. Even if you are not a Shakespeare aficionado, there is enough here to make you laugh. It is the possession and transformation of highbrow original comedy into a finely tuned modern comedy. This is not to say anything is dumbed down, original Shakespearean material is still there alongside original quality material of MacDonald’s as well.
The stage is set simply with a desk and chair while beds and balconies come and go. The set changes were done seamlessly, as were the transitions from the actors as some played multiple roles and existed in different universes. The irony of a situation was always exacted and made as hilarious as possible. The timing of each actor and punch line were spot on. In a play that relied heavily on timing, everything went swimmingly, including the use of props. Props falling from the sky became a familiar event during Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet).
The actors assumed their roles so well the audience hardly had to suspend disbelief. While laughing and wondering about alternate endings to Shakespeare’s classic tragedies, I also took in the new and more seasoned talent we possess here at K. There was not a scene I did not laugh, nor a scene that did not keep me enthralled.