Saturday, September 27, 2008

Greater Tuna

I'm going to keep my comments about the Idaho Shakespeare Festival's production of Greater Tuna relatively brief, because I reviewed Stagecoach Theater's production of it earlier this summer and I don't really think it's fair to invite comparison. Idaho Shakespeare Festival has a much larger budget for costumes and sets, so the production values were certainly greater. Moreover, Joe Golden and Tom Willmorth both belong to the Actors' Equity Association, the union for stage actors, so they get paid for their performances. I'll simply say that it was very funny and worthwhile going to.

But I've seen Greater Tuna three times now, and I think it's worth noting a couple of new things that ISF brought to the play -- again, not to invite comparison, but to point out some innovative strokes. One of them was a cool special effect that ISF was able to pull off -- the weatherman character, Harold Dean Latimer, is repeatedly struck by lightning. Another is the amount of miming that Golden and Willmorth do. All productions of Greater Tuna I've seen involve some amount of miming, especially when Bertha Bumiller has to shoo the dogs out of the house. Golden and Willmorth take it to an extreme, miming everything from dunking donuts to playing accordians and jugs to straddling a large dog and swatting it out the door. They pull it off with panache, using clear motions that made it obvious what they were doing and generating lots of laughs in the process.

As much as I loved seeing this show, for review purposes I wish I could have seen a different ISF production this year. I would have been more comfortable talking about the performances for another show. Plus it would have been nice to see some actual Shakespeare at the Shakespeare Festival. As good as ISF's non-Shakespeare productions are, I can't escape the feeling that seeing a musical or a contemporary play there is a little like ordering a hamburger at a Chinese restaurant.

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