Theatre in the Park will present the world premiere of Devon Does Denmark, a royal farce written and directed by TIP executive and artistic director Ira David Wood III, on April 1-3, 7-10, and 15-17 in the Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre in Raleigh, NC. TIP’s preshow publicity describes Devon Does Denmark as “Monty Python meets Hamlet” and claims its inspiration is “The Carol Burnett Show,” Abbott & Costello, and just a sprinkle of the Three Stooges.
“I wanted to write and direct a show where we can just hoot and holler,” confesses David Wood. “Rehearsals are such fun. I wanted to have a great time.”
He adds, “The show starts with Hamlet [played by Ira David Wood IV] in a very dramatic [Lord Laurence] Olivier pose. He steps forward and starts to speak, and it is immediately clear this is not the Hamlet everyone has studied.
“The first scene is of Hamlet learning about his father’s ghost haunting the battlements,” says David Wood. “In the next scene, we meet the Devon Players, a ragtag group actors who have been touring the provinces before making their triumphant return to London. They have several run-ins with members of the royal court before meeting Hamlet, who invites them to give a command performance before the king and queen [Michael Murray as Claudius and Lynda Clark as Gertrude]. The players soon discover, however, murderous plans are afoot.”
Besides the performers named above, some of the Triangle’s finest actors and actresses add their candle power to Devon Does Denmark. They include: Andrea Schulz Twiss as Ophelia, Tim Caudle as Maurice, Leanne Norton Heintz as Beatrice, Jesse R. Gephart as Reginald, Jason Weeks as Polonius, Justin Brent Johnson as Laertes, George M Kaiser as Rosencrantz, Colin McNaughton as Guildenstern, James Miller as Horatio, Sam Whisnant as Osric, Rob Rainbolt as Marcellus, Henry Young as Bernardo, and Robert Kaufman as Ludlow.
In addition to director David Wood, the Theatre in the Park creative team for Devon Does Denmark includes technical director and set and lighting designer Stephen J. Larson, scenic artist Carol Winstead Wood, costume designer Shawn Stewart-Larson, and stage manager Christine Rapp.
David Wood says the show’s set consists of “Very simple cut-outs to reflect the simplicity of the Devon Players.” He adds, “Act I is set on a cold seashore in Denmark. Act II is in a room in Elsinore Castle. Of course, with Devon Does Denmark being a farce, there are slamming doors in Act II….
“The lighting is very cool colors,” Wood explains. “Specials are also being used for all of Hamlet’s soliloquies.”
He adds that the cast will be dressed in “Period Elizabethan costumes.” But, says David Wood, “We are taking the audience’s … expectations of Hamlet and turning [them] upside-down … once the show starts.”
In an essay entitled “Thoughts on Comedy, Devon Does Denmark dramatist and director David Wood declares, “Theater provides us with many benefits, not the least of which is the opportunity to come together and share laughter. In a very real way, creating Devon Does Denmark was simply an excuse to be able to assemble over a dozen friends in order to enjoy a bit of laughter and fun together for a month or so.”
He adds, “I knew the rehearsal process for Devon Does Denmark would be a delightful and creative time together, because experiments dating back to the 1950s have demonstrated a definite link between humor and creative ability. People who are humorous are more playful; people who are more playful are more creative; people who are more creative find more solutions; people who find more solutions are better able to deal with change, everyday challenges and associated stresses. At this point in my life, those are the people I most prefer to spend time with.
“Putting this production on its feet has also caused me to think a good deal about the technique and art of creating something funny,” says David Wood. “The words of Christopher Fry begin to have even more resonance: ‘In tragedy every moment is eternity; in comedy, eternity is a moment.'”
SECOND OPINION: March 30th Raleigh, NC WRAL-TV interview of Ira David Wood III by Bill Leslie: http://news.yahoo.com/video/raleighwral-15751121/wood-s-hamlet-farce-premieres-in-raleigh-24721893.
Theatre in the Park presents DEVON DOES DENMARK, a world premiere by Ira David Wood III, at 7:30 p.m. April 1 and 2, 3 p.m. April 3, 7:30 p.m. April 7-9 and 15 and 16, and 3 p.m. April 10 and 17 in the Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre, 107 Pullen Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $22 ($16 students, seniors 60+, and active-duty military personnel).
BOX OFFICE: 919/831-6058 or http://www.etix.com/.
Ira David Wood III: http://www.theatreinthepark.com/theatre_staff_board.html (Theatre in the Park), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ira_David_Wood_III (Wikipedia) and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0202796/ (Internet Movie Database).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TTR in the Subject: line.
To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.