We are entering the final week of the "Love and Longing Repertory" at Quintessence Theatre Group, a 17th century double bill, of Shakespeare's LOVE'S LABOR'S LOST and John Ford's THE BROKEN HEART, (both set to close this weekend on April 23rd).
Working in repertory can be a maddening challenge. You spend weeks in rehearsals, but with two full productions to attend to, both time and focus is split, making the production process feel lean and rushed. This is only more true when working on what some refer to as "true" rep, when the full cast and crew are working on both shows. Mentally exhausting at times, yes, but once the machine is up and running, and has momentum, it is one of the most satisfying experiences I've had as a performer. This, now, is the third time I have been a part of the process at Quintessence, and the highs and lows are just as tangible as ever.
I like to think that the true effect of repertory is best experienced by an audience who sees both shows - perhaps on the same day, if possible - but I'm pleased to say that both LOVE'S LABOR'S LOST and THE BROKEN HEART stand as artistic achievements each on their own merits. There are only six performances remaining before we close (two of LLL, and four of TBH), and one chance left to see them both, back-to-back, tomorrow, Wednesday the 19th.
Here's is a sample of some reviews and photos to entice you...
"Quintessence artistic director, Alexander Burns, excelled with large-scale classical dram in his first six seasons, but LOVE'S LABOR'S LOST reveals a confident comedic approach exceeding his earlier efforts."
-Mark Cofta for the Broad Street Review
"The words and wit of Shakespeare are wonderfully, ofttimes wickedly (in the best way) delivered by a superb acting ensemble... All of these warring courtiers of amour vivify the romantic comedy with superb pop and sizzle."
-Lisa Panzer for DC Metro Theater Arts
"THE BROKEN HEART richly rewards attention paid to it. Quintessence actors skillfully meet the twin challenges of subtleties of dialogue and grotesqueries of action as the present John Ford's exquisite poetry, hot drama, and cold blood."
-Kathryn Osenlund for phindie
"Best reader among the actors is Gregory Isaac as the insanely jealous Bassanes. With his beautiful voice and mastery of the poetry, he creates a Bassanes reminiscent of Leontes of 'The Winter's Tale'."
-John Timpane for the Philadelphia Inquirer