REVIEW: Two Noble Kinsmen

Kelly Mengelkoch, Matt Lytle, Giles Davis, and Zach Schute in TWO NOBLE KINSMEN at Cincinnati Shaksespeare Company
Kelly Mengelkoch, Matt Lytle, Giles Davis, and Zach Schute in TWO NOBLE KINSMEN at Cincinnati Shaksespeare Company

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company makes some bold choices.  Deciding to complete the canon of all of William Shakespeare’s plays might seem natural – but they are only one of five in the country to do so.  And if you’ve read TWO NOBLE KINSMEN, you know why.  This is not a masterpiece on the page.  However, the skilled and talented actors and technical folks at CSC have somehow found a way to make it more than watchable.  I think I enjoyed myself!

Of course, I almost always do when Miranda McGee takes the stage.  The story of the Kinsmen is that two cousins (Zach Schute and Matt Lytle) are imprisoned. They both fall in love with the same woman (Sara Clark’s “Emilia”).  They fight over her.  Meanwhile, the jailer’s daughter (McGee) is smitten with one of the cousins (Lytle) and goes mad while pursuing him.  A bunch of other stuff happens and at the end, tragedy befalls one cousin, which allows the other to wed the girl.  I think.  McGee is just hilarious and nearly steals the show.

Also quite good are the title characters, and Giles Davies as Thesus, the father of Emilia.  Davies has been absent all season from the CSC stage and I know he was missed by the loyal subscribers of this adventurous theatre.  Brian Isaac Phillips does a nice job with the pacing of this show and keeps things moving right along.  I also though Andrew Hungerford’s set was functional, interesting, and made good use of the space.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this production is the fact that no one ever does it.  Here’s a snippet from the press release:  This production is so rarely done, in fact, that CSC is pleased to welcome “Shakespeare Tourists” from as far away as Washington, California and Vancouver, Canada!  Kjersten Hayes of Bellingham, Washington says “I have a life goal of seeing every Shakespeare play in either play or movie form. “The Two Noble Kinsmen” is the only one I have left to see. Every 6 months or so for the last several years I’ve googled the title to see if it will be playing. This year when I saw it was playing in Cincinnati, I decided to just take the plunge and make a trip of it. It will be the last Shakespeare play in the canon that I haven’t seen and my first time to Cincinnati!”  David and Amy Secord are traveling from Vancouver, Canada with friends from Seattle, Washington to Cincinnati for the first time in order to see “The Two Noble Kinsmen”.  They said “we have been searching for this title across the United States for the past 2 years. We even set up a news alert to tell us if it is being done!”  Rob Camm of Santa Rosa, California is “a Shakespeare enthusiast. One of my life goals is to see all of Shakespeare plays performed live. ‘Kinsmen’ is one of the 4 plays I have never seen performed live… I noticed (Cincinnati Shakespeare) was doing Kinsmen… and decided to make the trip.”

I think this is amazing.  Hopefully these folks will enjoy their stay in the Queen City. Kudos to CincyShakes for taking a risk, as they often do.  I think the risk has paid off.

TWO NOBLE KINSMEN runs through May 25th at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company in downtown Cincinnati.  More information, including tickets – and info on how you can subscribe for next year’s season – can be found here.

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