Welcome back to Success Story Saturday. As often as possible, we’re featuring Writers Forum members who have been published, won writing contests, or have otherwise found recent success as writers.
Today we celebrate playwright and Writers Forum member Ken Levens for his recent play As You Wish, starring Writers Forum Treasurer, Jennifer Levens. Writers Forum Program Chair, Sharon Owen, and Writers Forum Membership and Hospitality Chair, Jennifer Higley, are here with all the details.
Shakespeare’s Wife Sets the Record Straight in As You Wish
by Sharon Owen and Jennifer Higley
Riverfront Playhouse was recently the scene of a laugh-a-minute production of As You Wish, starring Jennifer Levens and Chad MacFarlane. The two-act, two-character play was written and directed by Ken Levens and ran as a fundraiser during the January 10-12 weekend.
In the production, Levens portrays Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, sent forward in time to set the record straight about her marriage. MacFarlane is a contemporary young American man who fancies himself an expert on Shakespeare. He is simply referred to as American Guy.
Sparks ignite quickly when Mrs. S and American Guy meet and begin a dialogue about The Bard. The play is a delicious repast of clever one-liners, salted with literary allusions and peppered with zinging puns.
Mrs. S confuses her anagrams, referring to Americans who go “driving around in gas-guzzling STDs.” She berates Walt Whitman, saying his work is “just one long run-on sentence,” and attacks opera, calling it “Italian for death by music.” And the female half of the audience was partial to her quip, “If the world were a logical place, men would ride side-saddle.”
A good quote to describe Mrs. S in a nutshell is, “I don’t cause commotions; I am one!”
The American Guy has his share of keepers, too. Such as, “All you need to know about love is that women are crazy, and men are stupid.” And he refers to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar as a play in which actors portraying Latin-speaking Romans, actually spoke their lines in perfect renaissance English.
Other quotable quotes:
“Love is not like Bingo–you can win at Bingo.”
“King Lear is a warning about not growing old before growing wise.”
Some of the literature, entertainment, and modern issues discussed by Mrs. S and the American Guy were: Monty Python, Doctor Seuss, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, the bees vanishing, GMO’s, fracking, and Lemony Snicket. Other references included Swift’s A Modest Proposal and the classic movie, Soylent Green.
Mrs. Shakespeare’s period costume was beautifully rendered, with décolletage that left little to the imagination where her ample bosom was concerned. By contrast, American Guy’s casual surfer dude costume looked just right for his character. The actors both projected their voices at ideal volume, neither too loud nor difficult to hear at any point in two hours of speaking.
Altogether, As You Wish proves that playwright Ken Levens knows his literature, from its birth up to the present day, and knows how to serve it up with humor and wisdom.
Writers Forum members, we want to celebrate with you so please send your success stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.