The Horror Honeys: Shakespearean Interpretation Shines in 'Ritual'

Shakespearean Interpretation Shines in 'Ritual'

Photos courtesy of the Hollywood Fringe Festival

A Hollywood Fringe Festival Review with Musical Horror Honey Brittany Mosley

Ritual (2017)

Ritual, currently playing at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, is billed as a “movement-based exploration of rituals [including] death and dying, transference of power, communication, and marriage.” Utilizing excerpts from Shakespearean works, both well-known and not, the Full Circle Players perform sonnets and scenes to convey the powerful emotions surrounding society’s rituals. Some of these scenes were more successful than others, however, as a whole, Ritual has a hard time conveying all of the messages it hopes to share.

Actor Jared Sandoval
Experimental theatre often shuns the traditional structure of a play in the hopes of utilizing a unique combination of words, sounds, and movement to evoke emotion in its audiences. In Ritual, by far the most successful portion of this piece was in words. The company had several incredibly strong leading players that truly understood the scenes they were performing. In the Julius Caesar sequence, actor Preston Helms was a commanding presence, understanding the conflict and power that Caesar had to endure until the end. Similarly, in the Hamlet sequence, Amber Boeteger’s Ophelia effectively and tragically conveyed the spectrum of emotions required for the scene as Hamlet is shunning her to a nunnery. In these longer sequences, both the leads and ensemble had a chance to shine.

The company of Ritual
As a collection of scenes, Ritual succeeds in providing audiences with well-acted excerpts of Shakespeare. However, it is in the transitions and the overarching message where the piece begins to struggle. The movement-based transitions, from one scene to the next, were utilized to exit and introduce the next ritual. However, the message was not entirely clear. There were sporadic uses of some props, including a scarf and mirror, which were oddly placed. The scarf, for example, was used to signify the transfer of power. However, the passing of the item was jarring and appeared to lack motivation in some cases. Another struggle with the transitions was the collective use of the ensemble’s voices, which often would become so incredibly loud that the first lines of the next major scene were lost. Tweaks to volume to account for the space would have been greatly appreciated.

Overall, the actors in the ensemble of Ritual are excellent interpreters of Shakespeare. However, the piece as a whole struggles to maintain its commitment to the play's overarching message.

Musical Horror Honey Rating: 2.5 Skulls out of 5

For more information on Ritual and other Hollywood Fringe Festival titles, visit their website!