Theater Review and Discussion by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray
Gail M. Burns: I really enjoyed “going to the theatre” at Upstreet Barbers on North Street in Pittsfield. Mission Bar + Tapas next door was bustling on a beautiful Friday evening in August, and the audience was encouraged to go there at intermission for a beverage or to use the facilities. Meanwhile the shop’s other neighbor, Dottie’s Coffee Shop, served as the “green room” for the actors. There was a great community feel. Upstreet owners Michael Rinaldi and Shawn Gurek are to be thanked for their hospitality. I hope this helps put them on the map!
Larry Murray: Shakespeare & Company never runs out of surprises and using the Upstreet Barber Shop as the setting for this play is a stroke of genius, and the location really is unique. Now I can say I have seen plays everywhere, from subway cars to Roman amphitheaters to the wooded glen at The Mount.
The challenges of getting Robert Sugarman’s play from concept to reality had to be a lot more difficult than it looks when you arrive at the improvised theatre.
Gail: Sugarman, a resident of Shaftsbury, VT, who has had several plays produced at Oldcastle, did several rewrites on the play just in the process of mounting this production. He had to change the time of year from Christmas to the early summer so that the actors didn’t die of heat stroke in winter clothes, and he had to accommodate director Regge Life’s decision to add music. His first idea was to have someone play the piano, but their discovery that actor Malcolm Ingram played the ukulele averted the issue of moving such a cumbersome instrument on site. I really enjoyed the musical interludes and the cast’s expert harmonies.