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NY Theater Reviews

Michael Pennington and Natasha Parry/ Ph: Pascal Victor

A TASTE OF SHAKESPEARE

By SANDY MACDONALD

The density of Shakespeare's poetry defies a minimalist approach.

Running a mere 45 minutes (including musical interludes), Love Is My SinPeter Brook’s adaptation of 31 Shakespeare sonnets – doesn’t exactly qualify as a play. Even without scripts in hand, it comes across more like a reading. Natasha Parry (Brooks’ wife) and Michael Pennington pace about a spare set (a smattering of stools and small tables set atop a well-worn Oriental rug), occasionally settling in to lob heartfelt plaints at each other and out toward the audience.
 
Brook has shaped a rough narrative using the rubrics – projected upstage – “Devouring Time,” “Separation,” “Jealousy,” and “Time Defied” (the latter cluster has as its theme the more companionate love that, with any luck, comes to supplant the vicissitudes of youthful passion).
 
Endowed with a deliciously sonorous voice, Michael Pennington really gets to the heart of his passages. Reaching deep within, he catches each wave of emotion and rides with it. Parry is considerably more studied; she swans about, wafting the skirt of her designer black duster whenever it’s time to settle onto a stool and declaim. At times the onstage musician – Franck Krawczyk, alternating between vaguely Gregorian accordion and sprightly Bachian keyboard, both elements by way of 17th century French composer Louis Couperin – is the biggest emoter on view.
 
If this theatrical teaser does nothing more than inspire spectators to consult the source, it will have performed a useful function. On its own, though, the compilation makes for a less than satisfactory Shakespearean foray.