TWO NOBLE KINSMEN: FIRE AND SHADOWS
Bare Theatre, Raleigh Little Theatre and Cirque de Vol Studios @ RLT Amphitheater
Through May 31
Unfortunately, even lengthier contemplations await audiences of TWO NOBLE KINSMEN: FIRE AND SHADOWS. True, a longer-than-expected intermission because of a backstage spill pushed the run time to nearly three hours on opening night. But this show was in difficulty before that, judging by audience members who left at the end of the first part.
I can understand their lack of patience with a production whose leads aren’t ready to helm an evening-length work of Shakespeare. We need to see what makes the two titular kinsmen, Palamon and Arcite, truly noble. What makes the fair Emilia (an unusually reserved and mannered Rebecca Blum), the head-over-heels Gaoler’s Daughter (Katie Barrett, one of the few believable actors here) or even Theseus, Duke of Athens (Brook North) take note of their virtues? But neither Jason Bailey nor Chris Hinton are accomplished enough actors to compel in their roles as the title characters.
The fire juggling by Cirque du Vol Studios was flashy, but irrelevant to the plot. Cutting it, and a not-that-comic dance number by village bumpkins in the third act, might have helped bring this affair into a more tolerable time frame.
Supporting roles shine at various points: Loren Armitage’s Wooer truly touched us in a late monologue describing the plight of Barrett’s character, and Seth Blum earned laughs as Chorus, village schoolmaster and doctor. Noelle Azarelo, Beverly Schieman and Mary Forester conveyed the dilemma of the three banished queens who set the plot in motion. Amy Richards’ shadow puppets imaginatively conveyed the deities that Emilia, Palamon and Arcite pray to on the eve of battle.
But in a show that stays a full hour past its welcome, these pluses don’t overcome the minuses.