Some reviews have been solicited (i.e., a request for reviews posted on SCA-West -- a West Kingdom mailing list or even elsewhere), and some were just posted either in response to another message, or sent privately after a performance, etc. These are grouped by the play we have reviews for, and they will be duplicated on the page with that play description ...
If you would like to give us a review of one of our plays, please feel free to click on this link ...:
From Mistress Hilary of Serendip, who was autocrat of Twelfth Night:
"The play certainly added to the richness of the event, fitting my goals perfectly. I wanted this to be the 12th Night where there was always more to see and do ... Good play, too, as you doubtless know - I watched the whole thing; probably the longest time I spent in one spot all day. Thanks to you and Aldith and all your crew for all the work and care you put in!"
From Dame Teleri Tawel, who organized the Saltire-shire folk:
"I assure you that we 'Saltireshirians' (say _that_ fast 3 times) had fun too. I shoulda warned you that - without instructions to the contrary - Crosstonians tend to do silly things. "Silliness is a virtue" is, after all, Crosston's motto. Tho, frankly, the fact that the stage was shallow and Vytas takes up a lot of space meant that groveling was the only thing we really could do 'gracefully' without blocking too much of the audience's line of sight! Serendipity."
From Siobhan Meabh O'Rourke (spelling?), we have two:
1) "An amusing side note: my daughter, Jennie, wandered into the play at about this point: she saw the Crosstonians going up, and thought to herself, "Heavens! Is court going on _again?!!!!_"
2) "My 6 year-old also really liked it - laughed at all the broad jokes, some of the subtle ones, and all the sight gags. He also told me on the way home that he was glad that his dad took 10 years to become a Laurel, because it must mean that Dad did it right." (Sniff -- I guess this means we did our bits right, eh?)
From a gentleman in Caid (on the Compuserve Living History forum we mostly know him as 'da Troll' -- Karl), who downloaded the script from the forum:
"<<check out the script>> ... well I did last night when I got home from work (midnight) and read it until completion ... my wife was kinda Peeved that I woke her up with all the laughter coming from me, and all the noise from when I fell out of the chair ... I Love this Play ..."
From Mistress Rowena in the Midrealm who also downloaded the play:
"Wonderful! Should be required reading for all laurels."
Flavio, the Fake Magician
From Matt Drury (sysop of the Living History Forum on Compuserve):
"Found the script. It's *very* good. Well done!
"The best line to me is either
"CINTHIO: My friend's passion rages like a really hot fire, that's really hot. His love for you is undying, like a sick old relative with a huge inheritance. His eyes twinkle at the very mention of your name, like the stars in the heavens, but he's only got two, and they're closer. His love for you is as wide as the ocean, but not as salty and there are less fish in it.
"FLAVIO: Well how I know the pain of love. For I, too, am in love with the cruel Flaminia. Why Do Fools Fall In Love? Love Hurts. Love Stinks. Where is Love? Love is All Around. I Love You More Today Than Yesterday. And I Can't Give You Anything But Love. But, All You Need Is Love. If You Can't Be With the One You Love, Love The One You're With.
"I think y'all caught the spirit of Commedia very nicely. What do the play production rights cost?"
From Mistress Cedrin Etainnighean (Oertha, in response to Matt's message above):
"I read Cinthio's line to Mike and he said 'Uh, I'm not sure how to respond to that ...'
"My comment was that it was very slap shticky.
"Maybe that should be a real word ..."
From Lady Meliora Leuedai:
"Hirsch's play is 'very' funny! Makes me hope for an active theatre troupe somewhere locally."
The Twin Captains (First Run)
I recently (February, 2001) sent to Glenn Russell of the Philadelphia Commedia Players (at his request), a copy the video for this play. They are a non-SCA troupe, that performs fairly regularly. The tape had both the warm-up performance and the actual performance. He had the following to say:
"Congratulations to you and everyone in Golden Stag Players!! I viewed your entire video twice and enjoyed every minute. I particularly enjoyed the actual performance -- since the roots of this theater style are outside playing, I think Commedia comes across better when seen from a distance and with a larger audience, especially when the audience is laughing and enjoying the show as they were doing in your video. Yes, I've seen several live Commedia performances, including Julie Taymor's The Green Bird and The King Stag and the audience didn't laugh that much; in my book you have them beaten since the whole object of Commedia is audience laughter.
What was most obvious was how all the players were so, so enthusiastic and willing to give themselves to the audience. I hope Golden Stag dedicates even more time to Commedia and mask acting in the future. You are doing Commedia dell'Arte a great service and the more people who see you perform the better."
The Tale of the Cotswold Lion
From Mistress Anastacia Grindstead of Raven Oak:
"Oh what a play it was! I still have chuckles bubbling in occasionally, like when I picked up the broom today and trying to count my fingers in just the right way will be an 'in joke' for a long time.
"Thank you to all the Players.
"If you missed it, demand a re-play as soon as possible!" -- Auntie
From Malachais von Morgenstern:
"For my part, I enjoyed the play immensely (although I unfortunately ended up missing the first act - herald stuff). The folks around me seemed to enjoy it as well. In fact, for a while there, I was certain that Aelf (who was sitting in front of me) was going to wet himself, he was laughing so hard. The bits that involved the audience were great, and fit right in. I would like to thank the Golden Stag players for putting on such a smashing show, and Their Majesties for allowing it to be scheduled at a time when a big chunk of the populace could enjoy it. I encourage future Royals to allow for such a scheduling - the populace seemed to like it, and I *know* the players would rather do the play at a time when more people could enjoy their art." -- Malachias
A Tale of Two Squires
"Anyone who missed the play should feel sad ... it was hysterical as well as touching. A wonderful morality play ... and not the least boring." -- Duchess Megan nic Alister of Thornwood.
"By the way, kudos again on the excellent play at Twelfth Night. You guys put a lot of work into it, and it showed in a very delightful way." -- Master George of Berwick, OP
The following reviews were the result of a "trolling" message on SCA-West ... thanks to everyone who gave me permission to post their reviews here:
"Someday I hope someone asks for my favor the way Damon [Bonefinder's character] asked for Iras' [Meg's character's] favor!!!!
"I loved the story ... and Hector [Juan's character] was a good and noble knight."
[Emma came back with more detail in a later message:]
"Some of the character moments were ... very intense ... like when Goubert [Seamus' character] tells Damon [Bonefinder's character] "I thought you had potential"... OUCH ...
"Some of the archetypes are difficult to watch ... and I imagine they were difficult to write, as well ... but it was a really good story...
"Oh ... and the part where the knights are all watching the tourney, and Bran [Iricus' character] absentmindedly gives his lady his wallet ... that was *beautiful* ... Many of us can empathize with that moment too .. <smile>" -- Duchess Emma Fitzwilliam (formerly known as Talitha)
"I loved "Tale of Two Squires", and I think it is the best I have seen from the Golden Stags ... though that may be because it hit closer to home than Commedia delle 'Arte. I suppose it must have been mooed by sacred cows, if you know what I mean, but I thought it was timely, touching, and well done. Meg and Bonefinder especially gave a fine performance.
"Thank you for a wonderful play, and please pass this on to the rest of the Stags ..." -- Darja z Prahy
There have been a variety of comments made in person, all positive, which can't be quoted as we don't have exact quotes. I think my favorite was (Sir) Colin MacLear coming up to me after the show with tears in his eyes stating that he cried through the second and third acts ... Someone was reported to have said that they weren't sure until the last scene if there was going to be a "good guy" at the end of the show and they were a bit disconcerted. I also received a very nice phone call from (Sir) Richard of Aldertree where he and I talked about the play for about 10 minutes, and he was very glowing in his praise ... -- Hirsch
The following arrived in email (May 30, 2003) from Valgard Stonecleaver, who is studying to attain a PhD in Theatre in New York, and is a former Westerner. He makes some valid points in the text below, not to mention his praise at the end. This is here with Valgard's permission.
You are wrong. A Tale of Two Squires is not a morality play. It lacks the central element necessary for a morality devine intervention. It may resemble some of the dual structure allegories of the 15th century (the two brothers, one takes the road to hell, the other the road to heaven), but it is too humanistic to be a medieval play.
What is it, then, if not a morality? Well, renaissance scholars, notably Thomas Sebillet, sometimes equated moralities with tragedies. Tragedies in this vein re: described as Morality plays starring kings, but this again lacks the firm hand of God (or Satan) rewarding and punishing. Don Giovani is certainly a morality. Faust even more so. The mouth of hell opens up in both.
Well, it has a happy ending, and the two lovers unite. This is an element of comedy. True comedy is always about young love triumphing over various obstacles, and the union of the two lovers is the comedic climax. This is certainly the case in Two Squires. Ut then how do we deal with the other problem, the squire who obviously falls from grace?
The answer is in the work of Battista Guarini, who wrote the Compendio della poesia tragicomedia in 1599, laying out the poetics for an entirely new type of drama, the Tragicomedy. This was considered by many (but by no means all) critics and poets of the renaissance as the highest form of dramatic poetry--complex, heavilly layered both in terms of theme and plot. From comedy it takes a happy ending, from tragedy it takes a serious tone. It eschews the bad parts of each it is pleasant without being lacivious, serious without being terrible. Most noteably, it threatens death but death never comes. This last idea was to be jetisoned by the Jacobeans, who developed tragicomedy into a type of thriller/horror genre. The greatest of the Spanish playwrights, Lope de Vega, championed a similar mixing of tragic and comedic elements, as of course did Shakespeare.
Structurally then, Two Squires then is a tragicomedy. Like many renaissance tragicomedies it contrasts two friends who start in the same place and have similar adventures which end in a competition between the two which leads to the elevation of one with the downfall or in some cases death of the other. If you haven't already (and I suspect you have) seen Shakespeare and Fletcher's The Two Noble Kinsmen, which is an adaptation of Chaucer's A Knight's Tale. Structurally, it is very similar to Two Squires.
All of which makes Two Squires the best play you guys have ever done, by far, and maybe the best SCA play written to date. --Val
The Braggart Soldier
"And much fun the play was! This is the first time I've managed to actually *see* one of the Golden Stag Players plays and if earlier offerings were this funny, I'm even more sorry I missed them!" -- Christophe d'Avignon
"I enjoyed the play immensely, as did my parents and housemate. ... And I confess that I am something of a production snob, having grown up backstage at melodrama theaters." -- Cassandra Rossignol
The Jealous Baker
"Okay, this was the first Golden Stag Players show I'd seen (sad since I joined the SCA the year they started), and I'd heard great things from others but didn't know what to expect. What I got was hilarious. It was taken from a standard bit of commedia del'arte, but the script was written by the troupe themselves, and I think it shows their personalities (maybe just because I know how naughty some of them are). I gotta admit, there were a couple of sight gags/ innuendoes that actually had me squirming (and if you know me, that's pretty amazing), but it was NEVER over the top. The lovers (at least the girls) were appropriately smitten, the harlot was appropriately slutty, the schemers were appropriately devious. Everyone seemed to move along smoothly, no snags visible, and everyone seemed to mesh extremely well with each other.
"Enter one mad baker with a slutty wife. Slutty wife is sleeping with every man in Livorno (and every other town in Tuscany, apparently). Three schemers are working out just how to sleep with slutty wife. Two schemers each have a daughter who are in love with the same man; same man wants nothing to do with love. One schemer's-daughter also has a brother in love with the other schemer's-daughter, and said schemer's-daughter is SO not interested. Wackiness ensues. You can read the script and other details on the Golden Stag Players website, but as I said: it was hilarious. I am really impressed how they put it all together as well as seeing some fine acting from folks I know from events. The set was rather neatly made with plenty of entrances/exits to pop in and out of, an amusing "customers served" sign, and simple but effective decor.
"I can't imagine putting this all together, getting the sets hauled in and put up, worrying about costuming, and worrying about the various actors illnesses flying around, all on top of Twelfth Night which has to be one of the most stressful events in the entire Kingdom calendar. The Golden Stag Players are to be lauded, and if you *ever* have the chance to go catch one of their plays, do so. You will be glad you did, if this is evidence of their standard fare." -- Catherine de Gray
The Alexandrian Tapestries (Jan. 2012)
"Yes, they *do* give Laurels for Tricks, as one of the Zanni so eloquently mimed. One of the funniest scenes!
Really. " -- Duchess Emma Fitzwilliam
"YYYYEEEEAAAAHHHH!!!! (Muppet arms flailing)
20 more years. 20 more years. 20 more years :-) The GSP Play is still *the* thing to do at 12th Night." -- Duquesa Juana Isabella de Montoya y Ramirez
"The show was utterly amazing. I simply can not even begin to fathom how you were able to get The Most Interesting Zanni in The Known World to participate but it made the show." -- Anonymous ... waitasec ... that looks like ... naw ... couldn't be ... but ...
"This year's production was great. The physical humor worked incredibly well. Hoozah! " -- Vashti Brianna
Favorite overheard comment on the ladder lazzi: "He came out drunk carrying the ladder with those floppy sleeves, and I thought 'Oh, this is not going to end well!'" -- Sedania de Corwyn
"Congratulations on your successful Arlecchino training program!" -- Crystal of the Westermark
"The GSP play is always the main reason to go to 12th Night." -- Juana Isabella (Dec. 30, 2008)