Shakespeare may have been a great writer, but he sure put his heroines through a lot of trauma. The Naugatuck High School drama club will take a look at some of the playwright’s most famous casualties and how they deal with their emotional baggage in their performance of “Ladies Sigh No More” by Thomas Hischak.
In a light-hearted homage to the bard, the likes of Lady Macbeth and Juliet find themselves spending their afterlives in a literary loony bin, attending group therapy sessions and idling away the time playing trivial games.
Lady Macbeth is still trying to wash that damned spot off her hands and Othello’s Desdemona is still searching for that fatal handkerchief.
“She’s obsessed with handkerchiefs,” said Freshman Angela Buckley, who plays Desdemona. “She’s kind of oblivious to what’s going on.”
Cordelia must face her demons and deal with the betrayal of Richard III or face an eternity in limbo.
The play is fraught groan-inducing references to Shakespeare’s works. But even for those not up on their Elizabethan literature, the show provides plenty of comedic fodder.
“I think people will know Romeo and Juliet. It’s hard to understand a lot what’s going on, but that’s why, I think, the writer chose this to be a comedy, so even if they don’t know, they’ll get the laughs out of everything, but I think that’s why they go through their back stories and everything so everybody knows who they are and where they come from,” said freshman Troy Bond, who plays Jamison, the orderly – one of two characters who don’t come from Shakespeare.
Jeff O’Brien, senior drama club president who plays the Mysterious Man, agreed that anyone with a basic background in Shakespeare’s tales would enjoy the play.
“Shakespeare influences a lot of our language. People should get the jokes, I think,” he said.
Director Devin Burroughs chose the play because of its heavily female cast – something the drama club has in abundance.
“It’s a modern comedic take on all of the women of Shakespeare. They’re in asylum to be rehabilitated as independent and strong women. … It’s very tongue and cheek,” Burroughs said.
The characters are zany and funky, according to Burroughs.
“It just seemed all around to be perfect,” she said.
This will be the first solo play directed by Burroughs, an alumnus of the Naugatuck High School drama club who graduated in 2008.
Sophomore Stephanie Hensley plays Kate from “The Taming of the Shrew,” in her first stage performance.
“Kate is very hostile and she doesn’t really like anybody. … She’s very into herself, she’s very all about her. And she’s very independent. She doesn’t take anything from anybody,” she said.
Hensley said her favorite part of the play is her fight scene with Melissa Campo, who plays Lady Macbeth.
“Me and Mellissa just met this year and now we’re going at it. It’s a fun time,” Hensley said. “It’s especially fun because normally, during the day, I don’t believe in violence. And then I get a fight scene during the play so, it’s difficult, I suppose.”
Hensley’s not the only one who likes a good fight scene.
“We all like fighting. It’s interesting because we’re not violent people so we let everything out on stage,” Buckley said.
Buckley is no stranger to the stage. She’s performed song and dance routines, but this is her first theatrical performance.
“When I was a little girl, I loved to dress up and put on shows for my mom,” Buckley said.
Other characters are not so violent.
“I take care of everybody … I have a crush on Juliet … I don’t have a grudge against anybody,” Bond said.
This is Bond’s first school play, but he does a lot of singing and dancing and most recently appeared as Michael Jackson in a performance at the Cultural Heritage Night.
O’Brien said the play’s message is one of hope.
“That’s more like, showing the people here they have hope. But the play itself revolves more around the conflict of the woman characters in the show and how they deal with their problems,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien is a veteran of both drama club plays and the Thomaston Opera House and Naugatuck Teen Theatre.
He said “Ladies Sigh no More” appeals to his intellectual side.
“I like the way it makes you think through the whole thing. It’s definitely a weird way to set up a play. They’re kind of stuck in limbo, almost because they don’t know that they’ve died, but they’re not sure exactly what’s going to happen to them. They’re kind of stuck with their problems. Very existentialist,” O’Brien said.
The drama club will perform the play April 7, 8 and 9 in the Naugatuck High School auditorium. Tickets are $6 or $5 plus a canned food item to be donated to the food bank and can be bought at the door.
“I think the hardest part will be the actors not laughing at the absurdities that are occurring onstage,” Burroughs said.