Company Onstage


Waiting for Othello and Desdemona : A Play About a Handkerchief –Trebuchet Players at Company Onstage

by Chan Stewart

September 20, 2014

One doesn’t need a prior comprehension of Shakespearean text to appreciate the hilarious works penned by playwrights Bryan Maynard and Paula Vogel. Waiting for Othello and Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief serve as two satirical, yet pensive, works filled with gratuitous puns and modern references.
Waiting for Othello serves as a would be prequel to the bard’s original work written in 1603. This allows the audience a brief comedic look into the moments leading up to the key characters’ choices in the original. The act opens with an introduction by Jonathan Moonen’s “fake Shakespeare” in which he gives a comedic summary of Othello with help from Cassio (Taylor Wildman) and Iago (Aaron Echegaray.) The characters then delve into a bar scene in which Iago is patiently awaiting the news of a would be promotion in rank while listening to the flamboyantly portrayed Cassio regale tales of loyalty and brotherhood between comrades (though he himself has yet to see the battlefield.) What ensues is a whirlwind of slapstick comedy, double entendre, and plenty of Moore puns (Huzzah!) complete with a drinking game for audience participation. Aaron Echegaray delivers a creepy but commanding Iago while Taylor Wildman’s Cassio is both funny and lovingly clumsy. Enter Jonathan Moonen who doubles as the smart mouthed bar wench and Rodrigo the short tempered soldier and the laughs only grow. Waiting for Othello is a gem and is performed with both conscious mockery and loose integrity against the abstract textured set created by Kathy Drum and Sean Feely. Definitely worth bringing a friend, but the gratuitous use of adult language suggests this is not a show for the entire family. That aside, The Company Onstage knocks this one clear out of the park.
Desdemona, unlike Waiting for Othello, is more of an in depth look at the lives of 3 seeming different woman of varying social statuses. These women explore a wide range of archetypes in just over an hour and really hit the nail on the head regarding the complexity of female relationships. Each long for a life other than their own and take turns playing both the dominant and submissive in this raunchy delight. Tyrell Woolbert’s Desdemona is far less pure and innocent than is implied in the original work. As the bored housewife, she uses the entirety of the stage to explore her sexual desires and leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination in doing so. Karen Schlag’s Emilia is the perfect balance as Desdemona’s Scullery maid who has just received a “promotion” to include laundress on her resume. She struggles to maintain her purity as her mistress prances about destroying her days work. The biggest surprise comes from Leighza Walker’s Bianca, who at first seems to be a free spirited lady of the night that has an almost sad naivety to her. We soon learn that she longs for a more settled life and is willing to fight to the death to protect matters of the heart. We are taken on an emotional rollercoaster which, as most of us already know, ends with our leading lady’s ultimate demise. The scene goes out on Emilia brushing her mistress’s hair to prepare her for bed and each stroke feels like a sand dropping in the time glass counting down to the end of Desdemona.

Both shows are cleverly written and brilliantly portrayed and the intimate space that Company Onstage provides allows you to feel every emotion that each character experiences on a spectrum of 0-100. This is a company worth keeping an eye on and absolutely worth the time and money spent to enjoy these beautiful homages to the great bard.



June 27, 2014