Review: 'Shakespeare on the Green' by Pomperaug Theatre Company

Nancy Sasso Janis

  • Connecticut Critic
  • Connecticut Critics Circle

The course of true humor never did run smooth.” - Paul E. Doniger in his director’s comments a.k.a. The Shakespeare misquote-o-thon 

Southbury, CT - ‘Shakespeare on the Green’ opened at Pomperaug Regional High School (Region 15) in Southbury. The “Fun, Frantic and Slightly Fractured Introductions to Shakespeare Plays” is by Amanda Petefish-Schrag and Ben Schrag. The production of the clever play runs through November 19 in the school’s black box theater. 

The play frantically runs through five of Shakespeare’s classics, ‘Taming of the Shrew,’ ‘King Lear,’ ‘The Comedy of Errors,’ ‘Merry Wives of Windsor,’ and finally ‘The Winter’s Tale.’ The plays are revamped into relatively short pieces, in an effort to make them both fun and accessible to teens. There is lots of comedic narration and modern language to update these classics written by the Bard and the multiple roles that the students play keep them on their toes. Even ‘Lear’ is made lighter with a long lesson in Shakespearean tragedy  (and how to avoid it) and a running total is kept of the miscommunications in ‘Comedy of Errors.’ Flexibility has been built into the script and director Doniger did his best to make sure that the students provide a fun night celebrating the playwright, along with some twists.

The program contains a two-page grid that organizes the performers and their roles in the five mini-plays. Every one of the Pomperaug students mastered a slew of lines for the five pieces, as well as a bunch of cues and at least five onstage costume changes. All of them took a turn to narrate the tales and some provided sound effects as they sat on the onstage benches.  

Every student had a role in all five of the plays, but I will highlight their most important ones. Ben Bernard’s roles in his first PTC included Antipholus of Syracuse and Mr. Ford. Justin Callanan did well with Goneril and Leontes. Ryan DeAngelis played Gloucester and Slender. Dan De Carli in his first year in theatre was both Regan and the other Antipholus. Abigail Dwight was luminous as Anne Page and covered King Lear as well. 

Clementine Grousseau was Cordelia and Perdita. Jamie Leo was in her fifth PTC show and played the lovely Bianca and Luciana. Conrad McDonald covered Dromio of Syracuse and Shallow. Pomperaug junior Grace Monagan notes in her bio that she was truly inspired by the Stango sisters and played the other Dromio and Mrs. Ford. Teresa Nguyen was a fairy and a bear. 

Emily Puglisi was Cornwall and Mrs. Page. Jacob Rogotzke, in his seventh PTC production, played Baptista, Egeon and a wonderful Falstaff. Mary Trudel was the abbess and Quickly. Benjamin Tun stepped up to play Petruchio and the rest of the bear. Isabella Watson was strong as the shrewish Kate and Pinch. Christian Winter in his PTC debut played Lucentio and Fenton.

Mr. Doniger was assisted by Elizabeth Styblo and stage manager Samantha Santos assisted her with the curtain speech. Lea Claflin was the art director and Carly Fernandes was tech director. Samantha Buckley was in charge of a whole lot of properties and Megan Balla and Julia Kossakowski were co-costume mistresses. Morgan Rosen was the head of construction of the simple set. 

The play will appeal to young students unfamiliar with Shakespeare’s plays and is enjoyable to those of us that are more familiar with the works of the Bard. Tickets for this intimate venue are limited, so the school runs the show for two weekends. November 18 and 19 will be at 7:30pm and Sunday, November 20 at 2:30pm. $5 for students, seniors, and Region 15 staff,  $10 adults

Photo by Pomperaug Theatre Company