City Adventure: King John

kingjohnsashley | The Ramones, the New York Dolls, Black flag, the Dead Kennedy’s and Shakespeare? Last night we got up close and personal with the Shakespeare Bash’d theatre group for their production of King John at the Junction City Music Hall.

Channeling 70s punk rebellion, King John and his leather-bound men fought for the right to the crown and in typical Shakespeare fashion, a lot of people died. This whip smart production almost gave me whiplash as I followed the cast back and forth through the audience lined gauntlet slash stage in the narrow basement venue. But sore neck aside, this group knows how to inject the essence of punk rock into the mouth of Shakespearian politics.

Shakespeare writes very strong and passionate women, so it’s no surprise that the women steal this play. Going into this, we knew that a lot of the traditionally male roles were being handed to the fairer sex and had no doubt that they would kill it. Stupidly and stereotypically women are pigeonholed as being too emotional to hold positions of great power. But these women tonight bashed that blasphemy into the ground.

Sochie Fried (Constance) was pure madness. Her utter grief and despair over losing her son was chilling. And Catherine Rainville, even as the messenger, projected across that room and stole your attention. When she donned her holy cross and red heels, she was not to be missed.

unnamed (1)But our King John, Lesley Robertson, brought the character to a whole new level. We chatted with Lesley last week about her role and how she thought a female portrayal would impact it. Lesley took a cunning individual to a more sensitive and sympathetic character, not weakening his power or presence, but giving a new perspective on the king and on the play. And she didn’t take mercy. Her anger was intense, her sorrow heartfelt. You saw her crumbling on stage as King John crumbled. I was drawn to her, even with the sour things her character did, she owned it.

You can tell this troupe is well versed on the stage. They move well together and feed off each other. And they work well with the audience, often getting right up in their faces or even sometimes in their booth, and the unique stage environments that they’re performing in.

Director James Wallis was the mastermind of the punk influence and it worked really, really well. I chatted briefly with him after the show and his passion and love for what he does is so vibrant, which I think is why this seems to come together so naturally.

Shakespeare Bash’d definitely knows how to perform and bring a whole new feel to classic Shakespearean productions. If you’re looking for a unique and exiting City Adventure, definitely check out the remaining King John shows, as well as the upcoming Shakespeare Bash’d performances.

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King John runs until Sunday, November 21, but most of the nights are already sold out. If you do want to check them out, you can find tickets for the Saturday, November 21 matinee here.

Upcoming Shakespeare Bash’d Performances:
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead Sexy: a Shakespeare Bash’d Karaoke Christmas Party! – December 18, 2015 at the Theatre Centre Café and Bar

Hamlet – February 2nd – 7th, 2016 at the Monarch Tavern.

Visit shakespearebashd.com for more information on shows and tickets.

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