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"If the thesis is that one mythic hero lives in 'Henry V,' 'Julius Caesar,' 'As You Like It,' and 'Hamlet,' in order for the audience to track this journey and explore it properly, one actor needed to portray all four of the individuals in each piece...As a complete night of four individual performances of Shakespeare, '1599' was something you’ll likely never see again. And in that regard, it’s something to shout from the rooftops. But it tried to be something that was not presented." Full Review
"'Project 1599' provides an excellent presentation of the most fruitful year in the life of Shakespeare. The wonderful cast demonstrates refreshing clarity in both articulation and performance, which makes the piece a potent educational tool. The spatial work by Niesen, and the scenic designers, is remarkable in its simple elegance and ability to establish a connection with the audience. Watching the actors transform into different characters is also a rare and valuable opportunity." Full Review
for a previous production "Lucidly acted, boldly ambitious…Yet the edits of the texts made me think of fast-forwarding, as if we were watching one bit that caught our interest, then skipping over a bunch of other stuff…A great deal of the pleasure here comes from watching the actors’ transformations…I can’t help wish that the company, whose actors have such excellent chops, had staged all four plays in full. Edited, they become a curiosity out of context — Shakespeare reduced to less than he deserves to be." Full Review
for a previous production “Director Jim Niesen has applied some very smart cuts to the texts to shave them down...The result is four and a half hours of great performances from some of the best plays in the Bard's repertoire…Nielsen makes good use of every inch of the theater, which resembles a crumbling Westminster Abbey...Irondale Ensemble, a fearless company that you should really know about if you don't already.” Full Review
for a previous production "Niesen’s notion is to present during one four-hour-plus offering each play in a trimmed-to-an-hour version and performed by the same six-person team...To be sure, the evening is something of a stunt. Yet the earnestness with which it unfolds in various parts of the main Irondale performance room goes some distance to make the time spent rewarding. Plus, the actors exhibit eye-popping stamina, especially Spieth as Rosalind and Collins as Hamlet." Full Review
for a previous production “Niesen gets down to the meat of the stories, but they never feel rushed...If you don't already know the plays, it could be harder to keep up with the plotlines...The format doesn't necessarily bring any new insights into the plays...That doesn't really matter, though. It's a fun experiment and a unique theatrical experience that allows us to absorb the breadth and depth of the Bard's genius in one fell swoop.” Full Review
See it if 4 Shakespeare plays in under 5 hours (3 intermissions). Time flies as super-talented cast intimately connects immersively with audience.
Don't see it if You want to see the classic word-for-word. There is connectivity with current events. They take original viewpoints. Audience participates.
See it if you want to see a handful of actors play a myriad of roles expertly. Also, the cuts are exceptionally well done!
Don't see it if you are a Shakespeare purist or are unfamiliar with the plays. Several people told me they were confused as to what character was speaking.
See it if You love Shakespeare & have read all 4 plays. You enjoy abridged & interactive works with 4th wall elements.
Don't see it if You don't want to spend 5 hours and dinner with complete strangers - by Hamlet you're either drunk on wine or just exhausted.
See it if You like Shakespeare & are open to abridged plays; exceptional acting and staging; you want to see the "summary" of 4 plays in a night
Don't see it if You have a short attention span or don't really like Shakespeare - the show is 5 hours (including 3 intermissions)
See it if you'd like to see a minimalist somewhat audience-interactive love letter to Shakespeare
Don't see it if stripping down the plays will bother you, or 4 will be too much. Moving around gives each play a neat tone, but occasionally blocks vision
See it if you love imaginative theater with great actors. I was astounded by the grace with which the six performers played dozens of parts.
Don't see it if you do not have the stamina for a very long evening. There is a dinner break with boxed meals.
See it if You love Shakespeare. You like non-traditional staging. You're OK being up close w/the actors & don't mind some audience interaction.
Don't see it if You hate Shakespeare. You don't like being close up to the actors & dislike audience interaction. You can't handle a 4 1/2 hr experience.
See it if You are familiar w/Shakespeare (a synopsis will do) and want to experience an edited telling of 4 plays in an unusual & very cool space.
Don't see it if A 4 1/2 hr (w/ 2 intermissions) slice of the Bard is too much to bear. Also, if you're a stickler for classics faithfullness, miss this..
See it if You love Shakespeare and want the unusual experience of seeing four plays in an evening. Excellent cuts and pacing, fun seating, high energy
Don't see it if You dislike the Bard or don't plan to familiarize yourself with the works in advance. You dislike melodramatic Hamlets - weakest and longest
See it if you enjoy Shakespeare and want to see it performed by a passionate, earnest group of actors who really understand the text and the language.
Don't see it if you will be put off by the 4 1/2 hr length. (Tho the creative staging, performer-interaction & riveting performances make the time fly by.)
See it if Shakespeare fan? RUN. Part of the 400th anniv; here's an epic staging/small cast version of 4 plays in one night! Worth it, it's really fun!
Don't see it if It's REALLY LONG. It's famous parts of 4 plays written in 1599. Eat before, or check out their dinner. Brush up on plots. Not for a newbie.
See it if you want a creatively staged, superbly acted night of the Bard. Most sections edited down well; last one brilliantly acted but drags a bit.
Don't see it if you prefer to be hidden in audience. FYI 1 of the 4 plays is in balcony: it is accessible, but view is different - ask theater for more info
See it if you must know the plots, since no usual artifices such as costumes, decor. The excellent acting and the text will more than compensate
Don't see it if you come unprepared., without making any effort to know the plots and the characters
See it if you wish to binge on great Shakespeare up close and personal and you love non traditional theater spaces -pre buy the dinner box - its good.
Don't see it if you are an early to bed person and can't accept the fact that for some 4 hours is code for not 5 hours.
See it if You're an avid Shakespeare fan. Some wonderful, inspiring performances. A beautiful space that is utilised well.
Don't see it if you can't do 5 hours of Shakespeare. If you don't know all 4 plays, or if you do know them and therefore don't want to see them again.
See it if You love Shakespeare, are an audience member who likes to be engaged, and enjoy watching actors with beautiful range play multiple roles.
Don't see it if You can't commit to an evening at the theatre, don't appreciate non traditional casting, or are turned off by impure Shakespeare
See it if You enjoy Shakespeare, semi-interactive theatre, watching people put on a seriously impressive theatrical marathon.
Don't see it if You have trouble with the bard, walking up/down stairs, or following along when actors play multiple parts.
See it if U R familiar w/ the characters & plots of these plays. You <3 great acting (Katie W. is exceptional) & Shakespeare's plays. 3rd play = okay.
Don't see it if you expect all 4 plays to be good. Henry V was so incredible! But, Hamlet wasn't good in my opinion. 'Terrible casting decisions for Hamlet.
See it if you care to add a thing or two to your "Why The Bard Still Matters" collection. It's like binge-watching "House of Cards," but smarter.
Don't see it if you have a short attention span. Or quite the opposite, you like your Shakespeare unabridged and untouched by modernity.