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Theatre Review: Deadly Medley speeds through Shakespeare in a hilarious way

Anne Evans Anne Evans Theatre Review: Deadly Medley speeds through Shakespeare in a hilarious way
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Illustration by Laura Sanders

Most people had to read at least a couple of William Shakespeare’s plays in high school. Hamlet. Romeo and Juliet. They are pretty much required reading. Deadly Medley is a creative compilation of the bard’s four greatest tragedies – Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Hamlet. And, as you may surmise, it is quite focused on the murders occurring in each.

Ohio native Trish Sanders wrote the play for high school drama classes nearly fifteen years ago. It is written for up to a cast of 16.

“I wanted a project that would engage a particularly challenging group of seniors in their last quarter in high school,” says Sanders. “I also wanted a show that would provide equal chances at “good parts” for all in my class. So I combined my love of Shakespeare with a great deal of silly to come up with Deadly Medley!”

The group of nine ladies performing the play this weekend at The Garden Theater is from the Notre Dame Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school. They range in age from sophomores to just graduated. Comedian Laura Sanders and her sister Bethany Sanders introduce the play and Laura fills the introduction with jokes.

Deadly Medley opens with a smartly dressed narrator (Juliet Hudson) who can barely contain herself as she excitedly explains what you are about to see. As she shares the four parts to the performance – Prelude to murder, First blood, Reaction to first blood, and finally the murders and suicides, you quickly discover how blood-thirsty she is. Her eagerness for murder is so gleefully intoxicating! She pops in and out of the plays with witty commentary. There’s no need to keep a tally of the murders because she gladly does it for you. It’s great.

You might think the simple set of four floor-to-ceiling banners and one simple seat, as well as having all of the performers wear the same plaid uniform (which conveniently transforms from a dress below the knee – for women, and a tunic above the knee – for men), may lead to confusion about what is going on, but that is not the case. The cast does a wonderful job keeping everything separate.

The plays mix in many funny modern day references – changing relationship status updates, losing/gaining BFFs, modern idioms. That’s a part of the play that changes with every cast.

Deadly Medley is a foray into a new kind of theater for the Short North Stage, said Executive Director Peter Yockel. The group has been interested in hosting an educational component and felt that sponsoring this group of students would be a great fit for their first summer.

Short North Stage board members have been exploring the possibility of hosting a Lovewell Workshop. Put on by the Lovewell Institute for the Creative Arts, Lovewell Workshops bring together groups of students and over the course of a few weeks (there are other formats as well), the students put together a play from scratch. It’s an intense format that immerses the student and empowers them with confidence in their own abilities.

Deadly Medley is being performed in The Green Room at The Garden Theater. Run-time is about an hour and it is performed without an intermission. There are drinks and snacks available for purchase. Tickets are $10 in advance at shortnorthstage.org, or $12 at the door. Remaining performances are tonight, Saturday, July 14 at 7pm and 9pm and Sunday, July 15 at 2pm.

The play has also been selected to take part in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The group will be heading to Edinburgh, Scotland next month. The Fringe Festival includes over 2,000 performances of music, theatre, dance, and comedy during its three week run. The American High School Theatre Festival Board of Advisors ( made up of college theatre professionals) selected the Notre Dame Theatre Program to represent the county as part of the 2012 AHSTF program. The Board reviews all completed applications and identifies the top high schools based on their most recent bodies of work, awards, community involvement, philosophies, and recommendations.

If you’d like to help the students with their trip, they are running a Kickstarter campaign to help with some of the costs. They’ve already reached their goal, so it will be funded, but there are still great incentives left if you’d like to donate. It runs through Sunday, July 22.

Unless you are going to Scotland to the Fringe Festival, don’t miss your chance to see this talented students in this hilarious play!

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