Lionface back on the scene with set of Shakespeare shorts

Allie Levine as Cassio (left) with Heather Hill as Iago in a scene from "Othello."


BG Independent News

Local theater lovers have not gotten their annual serving of open-air Shakespeare this summer.

Beautiful Kids, the 20-year-old campus-based troupe, is on, what we hope, is a one-year hiatus. Lionface Productions has also been quiet.

Now that community troupe is ready to roar, though they are going to do so indoors at Trinity United Methodist instead of on the Needle Park stage. (As much as I love outdoor Shakespeare, given the number of mosquitos I had to dodge on the short walk from my car to the church, this may be a blessing.)

Lionface is staging “Party Bard: A Lionface Productions Shakespeare Shorts Festival” Thursday, July 27, Friday, July 28, and Saturday, July 29, at 8 p.m. at the church at 200 N. Summit St., Bowling Green. Tickets are $7 and $5 for students.

Angelica Cooley as Montano in “Othello.”

In introducing the dress rehearsal Wednesday, Ryan Halfhill said the show was a way for the troupe to signal a return to the basics, Shakespeare and other classic plays.

The four scenes presented within the hour-long show cover a gamut of the Bard’s work with two scenes from tragedies, one scene from a comedy, and one scene from a history play. All involve drinking or eating.

The party starts with Halfhill playing the porter from “Macbeth.”

After a long night of drinking, the porter takes his sweet time answering the door at Macbeth’s castle, imagining himself the gatekeeper of hell – quite appropriate given the murder that’s just occurred – and wonders what manner of sinner may be banging to get in.

Then Halfhill’s drunken porter regales Macduff about the toll of drinking. “Lechery, sir, it provokes and unprovokes. It provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.”

A scene from “Othello” comes next. Here the carousing and subsequent brawling plays into the hands of Iago (Heather Hill) who is plotting the downfall of Othello, now consummating his marriage to Desdemona (Lynette Cooley) offstage.

Iago provokes a fight among Cassio (Allie Levine), Montano (Angelica Cooley), and Rodrigo (Kathryn Gonda).

Hill’s Iago remains distant and observant during the fight.

This scene gives us a glimpse of what had been planned as an all-female production of “Othello” for last fall.

The longest and most complex scene comes from “Henry IV, Part 1.”

Zack Robb as Falstaff with Meghan Koester

Prince Hal (Rin Moran) has set up his would-be mentor in debauchery Falstaff by robbing him of ill-gotten treasure. He didn’t want the loot. He simply wanted to hear what tale Falstaff (Zach Robb) will spin about the incidence. Robb, dressed in a fat suit as befitting the character, does not disappoint as Falstaff goes to great dramatic lengths, full of colorful and contradictory detail,  to tell how they were set upon by a throng, rather than the two who easily accomplished the deed.

Falstaff on being confronted with the truth still spins yet more tales.

The scene ends with first Falstaff, then Hal, pretending to be King Henry, Hal’s father.

Falstaff has the king, who is disheartened by his son’s life among lowlifes, say Hal should cast aside his companions, played here by Meghan Koester and Kathryn Gonda. But Falstaff has the king sing his praises as a worthy elder knight.

Hal will have none of this, and taking on the role of king unleashes a rich string of invective directed toward Falstaff. Playful at first, Hal’s taunting grows more cutting. This foreshadows Falstaff’s fall from grace and Hal’s ascension as Henry V.

The production ends with a scene from “As You Like It.”

Cassie Greenlee takes on the part of the cynical courtier Jacques. She gives a clear, assured reading of the monologue beginning “all the world’s a stage.”

Despite the reduced circumstances of his company, Duke the Senior (Lynette Cooley) welcomes another refugee to their table, Orlando (Nicole Tuttle). But Orlando will not eat until he fetches his elderly servant Adam (Beth Singers Rohrs).

The scene ends with Amiens (Katy Schlegel) singing of about the coldness of humanity, “Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.”

It is a melancholy end to what theater lovers can hope is a burst of activity from Lionface, which would be cause for celebration.

From left, Lynette Cooley, Cassie Greenlee, and Katy Schlegel perform a scene from “As You Like It.”