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December 5, 2007 > Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)

Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)

By Shari Wargo

Similar to soap operas, plays often have parts in their story where if people were more clear when communicating with one another misunderstandings leading to death and mayhem may not occur. What if someone approached the main characters in an attempt to correct the misunderstandings and create a new masterpiece? Would this person be able to correct the wrongs, or would they wind up in the story as well, playing their own part and change the course of events toward an unknown conclusion?

Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) by playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald, the current production at American High School directed by Troy River, asks these questions, explores the answers, and takes both the main character, Constance Ledbelly (double-cast as Erica Low and Sarah Hutches) and the audience on a journey of discovery. Teaching us, that no matter your age, whether as young as Juliet, or old as the cat loving Constance Ledbelly, it is never too late to make a change in your life and explore the possibilities of who you are.

The play starts by introducing us to our guide (played by Mark McDonald) along the journey we take. This guide creates the pathway for Constance to get pulled into the worlds of Othello and Romeo and Juliet, follows her throughout the play by leading her to each new direction she is to take, and haunting her with truth (and laughter for the audience) as the ghost in the graveyard.

Constance is introduced while concentrating on a book in her office. She is trying to figure out who the unknown author of Othello and Romeo and Juliet is, how William Shakespeare may have changed these plays and why. We see her as a little work mouse, completing assignments for the man she adores; only to find he is moving away, ready to propose to another woman, Ramona (Zorah Joyaa). Constance is losing the job she thought would be hers. Even though she is a quiet and unsure individual, Constance has the audacity to defy the norm no matter what others say; she drinks a Coors Light Beer despite the anti-establishment rhetoric of others.

When Constance hears from Professor Claude Night (Sameer Khan), the man she has worked and cared for, that he is proposing to Ramona, she decides to quit her job and descend into despair. While waiting for the dean to answer her phone call of resignation, Constance's comedic side emerges as she pulls objects such as her appendix off a shelf, tells us how much they meant to her, and then happily throws them away. She continues to discard items until she gets to the book she had been studying to find the true author of Othello and Romeo and Juliet. As she talks about her love of this book, the pages begin to slip, lights flash and Constance begins her journey.

Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) at American High School is a comical play that is filled with complex issues and the reality of what happens when a tale changes. The audience sees how Romeo and Juliet would feel for one another if they lived to see the morning; and we see the true character of both Desdemona and Othello. The actors are in sync with their characters - facial expressions and movements are expressive and real - immersing the audience in their tribulations while providing laughter as Constance creates moments of situational comedy.

Michael McDonald plays the tricky and jealous Lago, mastering his facial expressions. He also plays a comedic offbeat nurse from whom Juliet seeks council. Zohra Joyaa plays both Ramona and Desdemona, making the transition from Professor Claude Night's love interest to Othello's honorable and war-hungry wife. Both Professor Claude Night and Othello are played by Sameer Khan; Vicky Lopez plays Juliet, Julie, and Uh Jill. Rishabh Ajmera stirs things up with his sword fights with Tybalt (Eric Yu) as Mercutio, then transitions to a soldier of Cyprus. Kimberly Sharp brings a delightful melody, appropriate to the period with her sonnets in the world of Romeo and Juliet. Eric Yu (Tybalt) and Stuart Gegenheimer (Romeo) bring the complexities of relationships and the humor of men with their portrayals of Tybalt and Romeo.

With choreographed sword fights, lingering questions, a fabulous and versatile set, comedy, and betrayal, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) is a performance not to miss and goes far beyond the content you may expect of a high school play.

Rated: PG13

Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)
Thursday - Sunday, Dec 6 - 8
7 p.m.
American High School, Theatre 70
36300 Fremont Blvd., Fremont
(510) 796-1776 ext.57702

Tickets: $8 (Student), $10 (General Admission)

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