Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Seattle Shakespeare Company
January 7-23
Tickets: call 206-733-8222 or online

Aside from starring on Broadway as the Grinch, Patrick Page’s creation, Swansong, has made its way onto the stage at Seattle Shakespeare Company, bringing humor, laughter and genius writing into the relationship between William Shakespeare and his friend Ben Johnson. The tension and love that builds between them is only part of the plot, which also focuses on success, pain and what it means to be an artist.

The play opens on a solitary Ben Johnson (Brandon Whitehead), working painstakingly away on an epitaph for the long-deceased Shakespeare. The celebrated poet is lost in reflections on his friend, which then transport himself and the audience back to a time when the Bard was alive and well. The lighting (Tim Wratten) profoundly compliments this shift, transitioning from a stark, jarring spotlight to the warm lighting of a careless time. The lighting and the set are intertwined through the use of images projected onto background screens throughout the play. The rest of the set (Jason Phillips) is simple; successfully invoking audience members to reflect upon the purposeful conversation that accentuates the points of life and friendship as they apply to the human person.

from left: Ian Bell, Tim Gouran, Brandon Whitehead - Photo: John Ulman

The ensemble cast of Ian Bell, Brendan Whitehead, and Tim Gouran, veteran Seattle actors and talented artists, under the direction of Stephanie Shine bring to life this compelling tale and provide the range of emotion and connection the script calls for. Coupling their individual talents with the words of Patrick Page provides portrayals of these characters in a personal light, leaving audience members touched and connected to the show.

Join Seattle Shakespeare Company as they kick off the new year, their 50th production and embark on the revolutionary move of opening their doors seven days a week and implementing a counter-season, which is beginning with Julius Caesar, another show not to be missed (reviewed below). Catch Swansong through January 23rd, and also check this blog for updates on possible cast interviews to be heard on the Broadway Hour, a radio show run by this review team, which can be heard at Sundays from 10 AM to noon.

Reviewed by: Natasha Rae & Rick Skyler

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