Taking on Shakespeare in Boulevard Theatre Production
Teacher and student navigate the complexities of densely packed storytelling in John Murrell’s Taking Shakespeare. The contemporary tale of a college student engaging with a professor over Shakespeare’s Othello gently claws its way through a comfy space in Plymouth Church as Boulevard Theatre presents a staging of the two-actor play.
Jake Konrath plays a student named Murph. Murph can navigate the intricacies of fantasy video gaming and the works of George R.R. Martin, but he’s a bit lost when it comes to Shakespeare. Murrell’s text makes him kind of a tricky character to play. He’s not the generic “dumb jock” trying to understand something intellectually beautiful. Murph’s a sharp guy who really wants to understand a classic of literature echoing out at him from an alien antiquity. Konrath has a pretty good grasp of the character, but his esoteric passions sometimes seem a bit out of Konrath’s reach. When Murph is asked to talk about his favorite video game, the text seems to call for an appreciation of something strangely exotic. Konrath doesn’t quite deliver that kind of appreciation to the stage. This is a relatively minor concern as the heart of the drama clearly resonates through him in his interactions with the professor.
Amy Callahan plays the professor trying to teach Murph Othello. She’s a tenured academic who finds her class sizes dwindling. Her position may have to be cut. Her ability to teach Murph Othello may be all she has to prove that she’s still capable of doing her job. Callahan has a warm presence onstage and with Konrath delivers an intellectually vivid teacher/student story.
Through March 26 at Plymouth Church, 2717 E. Hampshire St. For tickets visit boulevardtheatre.com.