Once again, I found myself at the opening night of another Maryville College Theatre production. Unlike last time, there was not a long line waiting along the wall in front of the Haslam Family Flexible Theatre. That concerned me at first, but once the doors were opened, more people showed up, and my worries were eased.
This production was “Shakespeare for My Father,” a one-woman play written and performed originally by the famous British actress Lynn Redgrave.
The show was an autobiographical account of Redgrave’s relationship with her father, Michael Redgrave, an intimidating man and accomplished actor in his own time, known primarily for his Shakespearean roles.
Unsurprisingly, the young woman who took on this challenge was none other than senior theater major Caitlin Campbell. The performance was on the same level of her other plays I have seen, like the most recent “Medea” production.
I must confess that going in I knew nothing about the play. At the last minute, I remembered that I should have done some research, but I decided to let the performance speak for itself if it was any good. Also, I was not so sure about how to feel about a play that starred only one person.
Yet, once again, Campbell wowed me with her talent and made me believe in plays like this one.
Her ability to transition from a wide array of emotions and characters in only seconds stunned me. She could go from being a precocious, doe-eyed child to a snarky Shakespearean nurse, and then to an ailing elderly man with Parkinson’s disease.
As expected of British comedy, the humor that permeated throughout the play was dry, but no less enjoyable. Each little quip brought out a chuckle from me, and, at times, tears came to my eyes when the mood became serious and melancholy.
To me, that speaks volumes of Campbell’s abilities to move the audience with just her presence and words alone.
Of course, I cannot forget that the lighting crew did wonders to set the mood as well, especially with the touch of music added in.
My only beef was with the audience. It astounded me to hear various phones ring and vibrate while I tried to enjoy the show in front of me.
Despite those little distractions, the overall experience was a memorable one. If Lynn Redgrave was still alive to see it, she would have been proud.