Notes from the Fringe

By MEGAN GRUMBLING  |  June 27, 2012

We'll move on to Shakespeare, but not your traditionalist's Shakespeare: Acorn Productions' All's Well on the Waterfront takes All's Well That Ends Well (itself rather an odd dark comedy) and sets it in Victorian Portland, stages it in a Portland Company Complex building filled with a manufacturing installation and soundscape, and breaks up the play into short scenes and five rooms, through which audience members can wander freely. Acorn woos us, then, with an example of the latest craze in theater, an "environmental performance experience" that gives an audience the agency to, literally, explore the scenes.

Acorn had me with site-specific, localized, choose-your-own adventure Shakespeare in a warehouse. But lo! we also get to hear local historian extraordinaire Herb Adams expound on the era. The play's characters, too, are associated with true Maine Victorians: The King (Michael Howard) is Portland Company founder John Poor; the Countess (Stephanie Ross) is Prohibitionist Lillian Stevens. "On stage" constantly in the low-lit rooms (installation by Christopher Price), actors sit around throwing dice or knitting when their characters have a break from the monomaniacal marriage machinations of fair Helena (Elizabeth Somerville).

ALL'S WELL ON THE WATERFRONT | by William Shakespeare | Directed by Michael Levine | Produced by Acorn Productions | June 29-July 1 @ 7 pm at Building 11, Portland Company Complex, 58 Fore St, Portland | acorn-productions.org | 207.854.0065

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