Archikulture Digest

The Tragical Comedy of Thyramus and Pisbee

The Tragical Comedy of Thyramus and Pisbee

By Eric Hissom

Directed by Michael Marinaccio

New Playfest 2015

Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Orlando FL</strong>

This title might not even register unless you are a Shakespeare buff; it’s a play about the actors in a subplot of “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” These guys are the rude mechanicals tasked with putting up some wedding night entertainment for the marriage of actors with much nicer dressing rooms. It’s still the early 17th century; King James has finished a hard day of translating St. Luke and now he wants some silly fun. Nervous Julian Cross (Brett Waldon) understudies an understudy but gets promoted to a speaking role. Writer Hissom succeeds in getting actual Black Plague jokes to work and so Cross needs rehearsal as even as the divinities of theater are lined up against him. He also needs to pee but through the magic of theatre he can hold it for another hour or so. Master of Revels Lord Phillip Strayte (Jay T Becker) also informs him the chamber pot is out of order and could he please hold it until after the talk back? Stakes escalate when Rosemary Basso (Gemma Victoria) arrives and we explore the story’s central conflict: who came up with the idea of “The Tempest”? Contenders include sarcastic Henry Goodwin (Simon Needham), ur-feminist Rosemary and of course a drunken Billy Shakes (Becker again). We never answer that burning question, but an ethereal Queen Elizabeth (version 1.0) wraps things up with and odd and perhaps misplaced speech. It’s all rollicking fun with a wink to the Festival hosting this show. You don’t need to grasp the fine points of Shakespeare’ controversies to enjoy this show but they don’t hurt either. Is it funny? I laughed at almost every gag. Will an audience unfamiliar with the source laugh? Not as often, but way more jokes connect here than in the original material. See you later, I have to go see a man about a script…

For more information on Play Fest at Orlando Shakespeare Theater, visit

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