Shakespeare & Company’s “Leap Year” Sinks at Simon’s Rock [Berkshire on Stage]
Theater review by Gail M. Burns
It is hard to know where to begin writing about the train wreck that is Leap Year since I am not entirely sure what it is. I attended a press opening, so I assume it is not entirely an educational theatre collaboration between Shakespeare & Company and Bard College at Simon’s Rock because customarily such efforts are not open for review. But even if that is what it is, the production values are dismally low for Shakespeare & Company, which routinely turns out top notch productions in school gymnasiums with kids as young as eight or nine. In the handsome McConnell Theatre and with all the combined resources of Simon’s Rock and ShakesCo, this is a visual/technical embarrassment.
The script is poor, too. Playwright William Coe Bigelow is a successful writer for film and television, but this is his very first stage play and it shows. There was a staged reading of Leap Year during Shakespeare & Company’s 2009 Studio Festival of Plays, featuring Olympia Dukakis, and I noticed there was a larger cast involved, so some rewriting has taken place, but the play still badly needs the firm editing hand of a strong and experienced theatre director and/or producer. Shakespeare & Company Artistic Director Tony Simotes directed in 2009, but here he hands the directorial reins over to Stephen Rothman, who made his ShakesCo debut last season directing Parasite Drag [Review].
Both are experienced theatre professionals who ought to see the flaws in Bigelow’s script (not to mention the distracting hideousness of the set and costumes) and guide this production better.