In yet another example of the power of the arts to transcend divisions, “Will on the Hill…Or Won’t They?” features a light-hearted storyline with cameo appearances from policymakers on both sides of the aisle — a welcome show of bipartisan support for the Shakespeare Theatre’s annual educational and outreach programs charity event.
Written by Nat Cassidy and directed by Samantha Wyer Bello, with video edited and designed by Gordon Nimmo-Smith, this play within a play begins as the Director (Christopher Michael Richardson) is attempting to convince representatives Smith (Holly Twyford) and Jones (E. Faye Butler) — two senators known for crossing the aisle, eschewing partisan politics, and working together for the good of the country — to put aside their petty bickering and rehearse their lines.
Jessica (Felicia Curry) and Ronny (Gregory Wooddell), long-suffering aids to the representatives have done some aisle-crossing themselves, all the while attempting to keep their bosses happy and their secret hidden.
As the story unfolds, representatives briefly materialize from a home, an office, or a home office to recite Shakespeare’s words before gliding off again. Several notable actors, including Andre de Shields, Harry Hamlin, Kelly Curran, and Stacy Keach also make appearances, giving voice to the Bard’s timeless genius.
Richardson (Director) brilliantly communicates his character’s frustration at being tasked with herding congressional cats, and Butler (Senator Jones) and Twyford (Senator Smith) provide laugh-out-loud humor as they squabble about recent legislative slights. Curry (Jessica) and Wooddell (Ronny) are witty and well-matched, Wooddell’s expressions of boredom providing Curry the momentum to argue along with actor Michael Urie (playing himself) for the value of Shakespeare’s work.
Although the city’s theatres are closed, Shakespeare’s imaginative power has not been dulled by pandemic-induced adjustments. Instead, the cast’s passionate musings on why Shakespeare matters and what his work offers today’s audiences take on deeper meaning with the knowledge that — at that very moment — you are just one of many who have logged on to savor the words that first rang out more than 400 years ago in Elizabethan England, words once spoken at the Globe, now emanating from a small screen, in the comfort of your home, on a stage called Zoom.
Running time: One hour with no intermission.
“Will on the Hill…Or Won’t They?’’ streamed online Monday, September 14 at 7:00 p.m. The production is available to view through September 17 by clicking here.