Insanity was the byword for this year’s “Will on the Hill and Far Away,” by the Shakespeare Theatre Company. With a healthy dose of magic, we lost part of Congress in the mystical land of Shakespeare. Not so surprisingly, a number of people wanted to stay and have fun. And who can blame them? A chance to have fun with colleagues on the other side of whichever aisle you’re on? Check. Mingling with some of the DMV’s finest actors? Check. Fundraising for a renowned theatre? Check. Remembering that play is as vital to life as anything else? Check, check and check.
This is a lovely relaxed way to celebrate the intersections of theatre and government at high levels. Because can’t we just have more fun?
This year’s script was written by Nat Cassidy, directed by Samantha Wyer Bello, and the video designed and edited by Gordon Nimmo-Smith. Given the number of people involved, Ms. Bello and Mr. Nimmo-Smith hopefully took today off to simply rejuvenate in peace and quiet. Maybe with an adult beverage or two.
The basic premise of this year’s romp is that Congress is finally getting around to holding hearings on what is the deal with this Shakespeare guy that he keeps being referenced all over the place. So, does he need a budget or something? If so, tough. There’s no money in the budget for him. A scientist and his assistant have created a program that will allow a form of time travel so people from earlier times can be brought to the present and have a dialogue. Naturally, Chaucer takes the opportunity to pop up first and lay his claim to the Shakespearian universe. The subterfuge is caught and finally Shakespeare is brought to the present via this wormhole.
But this IS Congress, so first he has to be sworn in. That’s right, William Randolph Shakespeare has to be sworn in. Naturally, he doesn’t have a middle name that anyone knows of, but well, the lab assistant just thought it sounded “right.” Unlike many errors in life, that was quickly rectified.
Naturally, a mishap occurs — well, tech is involved. A number of the committee members were sucked into the wormhole and landed in Shakespeare’s universe, or more specifically, in his various plays. Not everyone seems to want to leave. Others want to give advice. Others are just content to watch the madness play out. Some are just befuddled. Given how many Henry’s Shakespeare wrote about, that seemed understandable.
This is where the new DC Rep. Jessica Tanzer (Felicia Curry) takes charge and tries to round up the committee members — or at least bring them together so they can be rescued together. She is somewhat stymied in her efforts by the other new DC Rep. Sen. Eugenia Smith (Holly Twyford) who insists on getting involved when she’s advocating, just don’t worry. That doesn’t go well. But as usual, it was up to the women to try to fix things.
Along the way, the wandering representatives and senators meet a variety of Shakespeare’s characters and the miscommunications are pretty funny. At least they get an education as to the scope of Shakespeare’s creations. Naturally, being government officials, they try to offer some advice to the characters (but no budgets — these must be the unfunded mandates).
This is a lovely, relaxed way to celebrate the intersections of theatre and government at high levels. Shakespeare Theatre Company has brought a lot of people together and they just had fun. We had a great time watching and catching all the jokes. It also raised awareness as to how important theatre and the arts are to life, and how they mirror each other and can provide clarity. No budget resolutions were needed. Win-win. This is a lovely DC tradition, and here’s to many more years. Because can’t we just have more fun?
This year’s full cast included (and a major reason why the electronic program is 40 pages long):
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) (Bottom)
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) (Self)
Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) (King Henry VIII)
Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) (Self)
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) (Rosalind)
Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) (King Henry VI)
Rep. André Carson (D-IN) (Self)
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) (Self)
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) (King Henry IV)
Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) (Self)
Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) (Self)
Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) (Starveling)
Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) (Self)
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) (Snug)
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) (Self)
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) (Cleopatra)
Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) (Self)
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) (King Henry V)
Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) (Snout)
Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) (Self)
Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-TX) (Self)
Rep. Van Taylor (R-TX) (Flute)
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) (Self)
Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) (Bear)
Marla Allard (Tamora)
Bianca Amato (Juliet)
Tẹmídayọ Amay (Ariel)
Ashley Buster (self)
Margaret Coons (Quince)
Felicia Curry (Rep. Jessica Tanzer, D-DC)
Zoë Sophia Garcia (Lavinia)
Yonatan Gebeyehu (Doctor)
Kimberly Gilbert (Beatrice)
Harry Hamlin (Gloucester)
Chris Jennings (Puck)
Colleen Kennedy (Self)
Drew Lichtenberg (Self)
Ian Liddell-Grainger (Chaucer)
Grover Norquist (Self)
Patrick Page (Shakespeare)
Tristan Andre Parks (Romeo)
Dame Karen Pierce (Self)
Christopher Michael Richardson (Assistant)
Tony Roach (Benedick)
Tom Story (Joseph)
Faran Tahir (Othello)
Tracie Thoms (Kate)
Nury Turkel (King Henry IV)
Holly Twyford (Sen. Eugenia Smith, D-DC)
Craig Wallace (King Lear)
Finn Wittrock (Hamlet)
Gregory Wooddell (Propsero)
Jacob Yeh (Concierge)
Running Time: Approximately one hour and 15 minutes (with a small blooper reel at the end — loads of fun).
“Will on the Hill and Far Away” by Shakespeare Theatre Company continues to stream until 11:59 pm on Thursday, June 10. For more information, click here.