RDC students impress in unique season opener

Attendees of Red Deer College’s production of William Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead are in for quite an unexpected plot twist during the course of the play, which runs until Oct. 18th.

Performances take place in Studio A, with curtain at 7:30 p.m.

Director Kelly Reay describes the production as an, “Alternate reality tale of survival, camaraderie and heroics.”

Written by John Heimbuch, the story is set within the time period when the Globe Theatre in London had only just opened, and where Shakespeare and his troupe of merry men and women interact with Queen Elizabeth herself among many other colourful characters.

These characters journey through London in 1599 as Shakespeare’s Henry V opens at the Globe. But the joys of opening night are soon crushed as a vile plague ravages the streets of London and those afflicted by the illness grow increasingly blood hungry.

Performers in RDC’s production even take on British accents to make the show more believable, however some of the actors’ accents were slightly more convincing than others. By far the most notable aspects of the production was the extensively well-designed set which in conjunction with the hazy special effects perfectly set the scene for the dramatic events taking place.

Actors were also lavishly adorned in period costume, including a stunning dress worn by Emily Cupples as she portrayed a surly Queen Elizabeth.

Shakespeare is played by Evan Macleod who did an outstanding job of delivering depth to the character while maintaining his British accent to a tee.

Another notable performance came from the comedic relief provided by Nate Rehman in the role of Kemp – a former actor in Shakespeare’s troupe who Shakespeare fired for not sticking to the scripts in his plays.

Kemp is an excellent addition to the often somber and death-filled fictional tale of Shakespeare’s life, as the character often finds a way to lighten the solemn scenes through his comedic ‘jig’ dances.

The script itself offers unique factual accounts of moments in history, such as the opening of the Globe Theatre, the death of Shakespeare’s son Hamnet, as well as insight into the characters involved in Shakespeare’s life in that time period such as Sir Francis Bacon – a wealthy lawyer of the Queen’s court.

The character of Bacon was played by Rina Pelletier, whose performance of a male character was both entertaining and convincing through effective costume and make up. It is also interesting to note the author of the play’s inclusion of Bacon within the script as there are many well-known yet unproven theories surrounding the idea that Bacon was behind many – if not all – of Shakespeare’s famous plays.

Heimbuch included in his rendition of Shakespeare’s life the aspect of Bacon coming to Shakespeare and saying he has written a new play to bemuse the queen and wishes for Shakespeare to take it on as his own. However, the young Shakespeare is unimpressed by the quality of Bacon’s work and is only persuaded by the promise of financial reward.

Overall, this rendition of Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead was an entertaining start to the season, bolstered by humorous characters and an interesting plot.

For tickets, visit www.blackknightinn.ca.