REVIEW: Hilberry has fun with Shakespeare

Reviewed by: Robert Delaney, New Monitor Detroit

Click HERE to read the review on Encore Michigan’s website.

Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)

Vanessa Sawson (Constance) and Joe Plambeck (Servant) in Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) at the Hulberry Theatre
Photo: Felix Li

A doctoral candidate’s notion that she has found the missing key to two Shakespeare plays leads to an amazing and very funny experience in Ann-Marie MacDonald’s “Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet),” the newest production of the Hilberry Theatre on the campus of Wayne State University.

Constance Ledbelly has come to believe that both “Othello” and “Romeo and Juliet” were based on earlier sources that were not tragedies, but in fact comedies. And they certainly take on comedic aspects when she is somehow magically transported – not only through time, but also from reality to fiction – right into the action of first one play, then the other. Her arrival changes the course of both plays, and we see sides of their well-known characters we never would have guessed were there.

The play is a fanciful romp that is sure to amuse anyone familiar with the Shakespeare plays, and this is a very fine production of it, thanks to the efforts of director Anthony Schmitt and a very talented grad student cast.

Vanessa Sawson is a delight as Constance, who goes from being an overworked and appreciated doctoral candidate to having the astonishing experience of getting to know Shakespeare’s characters first-hand. From being walked over by her students and dissertation adviser alike, she goes on to play a pivotal role in two of the greatest classics of English literature. The concept might sound far-fetched, but it really is great fun – for cast and audience.

SHOW DETAILS “Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)” continues in rotating repertory through Feb. 9 at the Hilberry Theatre, at Cass and West Hancock on the Wayne State University campus. For performance and ticket information, call 313-577-2972 or go

Reprinted with permission of the New Monitor, Nov. 21, 2012

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