Monday, Feb. 20, 2012

‘What If’ History With Windfall

Windfall Theatre brings a fun little mutation of history to a fun little stage.

By Russ Bickerstaff
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The Windfall Theatre bring this Milwaukee Premiere of David Davalos’ Wittenberg to its cozy stage that month. On the surface, its kind of a simple intellectual comedy, but it’s a fun intellectual comedy. Three really good actors play three historical characters . . . .1 real—the other two kind of surreal. The idea that Dr. Faustus, Martin Luther and Hamlet, Prince of Denmark all knew each other is kind of fun. And Davalos has a fun time with it—particularly where there’s a chance to reference Shakespeare’s Hamlet or the fate of any one of the characters.

It feels a little weak in places and if I have a problem with any of it, it’s the fact that Davalos occasionally plays to the lighter end of light comedy when the heaviness of these three characters would have been more than enough comedy all by itself, but that’s a personal stylistic thing, I guess.

A lot of what this script plays with things that didn’t happen but probably should have. Was Dr. Faustus the first psychologist? No, but he should have been. Was one of his first clients Hamlet? No, but he should have been. Was Nicolaus Copernicus somehow involved in the whole thing? No, but he probably should have been. Where the script might get a little weak may have something to do with Davalos takingthings a bit far. Faust performing a 15th century version of The Devil’s music at some college bar is a cute idea, but it’s stretching ever so slightly. This play is at its best when  it’s running through the subtle implications of intellectual advancement . . . which is, thankfully, where it spends most of its time.

Windfall Theatre’s Wittenberg runs through March 2nd at Village Church Arts. For ticket reservations, call 414-332-3963. A review of the production runs in the next Shepherd-Express

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