Best Intentions

Shark Eat Muffin Theatre Company’s Best Intentions focuses on the perspectives of two regularly overlooked characters in Shakespearean fiction: Angelica the nurse from Romeo and Juliet, and Emilia from Othello. Looking at what would happen when putting these two characters together in a room, the play explores the way in which the two characters respond to their roles in the tragedies. Although the production made some interesting points, had some creative ideas and was well-acted, the play’s main point never really came across, meaning it lacked any kind of theatrical impact required to make it a really great response to the Shakespearean tragedies, or expand upon the characters it hones in on.

The play feels like the characters are being redeveloped, rather than being developed upon

The play places Angelica and Emilia in a room together. They cannot get out and all they have is a dictaphone and a jigsaw puzzle. Both are unsure of where they are, or why they are there. Emilia takes control of the dictaphone, saying she hopes to write memoirs about her experiences, while Angelica takes an interest in the puzzle. As the play progresses, the two characters come to understand their feelings of guilt, while trying to figure out where they are.

The set is empty, meaning everything falls on the two actors to hold the audience’s attention. They do for the most part, although the play does feel its length in having two actors talking in a dialogue without anything else happening. Their conversations stretch from the mundane to the emotional, talking about the jigsaw puzzle on the one hand, then Angelica saying how her daughter Susan died as an infant. The conversations feel naturalistic and flow along with a good pace, but that constant need for drama is felt, and the drama never really comes. The time is spent with the two characters trying to retrace their steps, but these are steps that we as an audience already know, so there’s no real revelation. There never came those moments of personal truth, where you developed a new understanding of the characters. A good script and great acting couldn’t help an otherwise motionless story.

Both Amy Fritsche and Jess Tanner give great performances, their wide range of emotions and actions keeping the story afloat, but again it just feels like there was a missed opportunity here. The play feels like the characters are being redeveloped, rather than being developed upon, which is a shame as both actors perfectly capture the original characters in a new setting.

A play where the two characters tormented by guilt for their part in a tragedy would have been interesting, but that story just never comes across in this purgatorial tale of retracing forgotten steps. While this was a good effort, both creative and well-written, it never had that dramatic push needed to really make it feel like a new spin had been developed with these two interesting and under-appreciated characters.

Reviews by Euan Brook

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Performances

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The Blurb

Best Intentions… are what Angelica and Emilia, two modern adaptations of the often-overlooked women from Shakespeare’s Othello and Romeo and Juliet, definitely had before they ended up trapped in a room with a kitten puzzle. They must now take this opportunity to look more closely at their lives, the choices they made and how they came to be in this place. Through reasoning, deduction and slowly revealing their dark secrets, they discover that escape will warrant some honesty, as their 'best intentions' are not an excuse in the eyes of the law.

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