Shakespeare & Company’s “Leap Year” Sinks at Simon’s Rock [Berkshire on Stage]

The cast of “Leap Year” at Simon’s Rock. Photos: Kevin Sprague.
The cast of “Leap Year” at Simon’s Rock. Photo: Kevin Sprague.

Theater review by Gail M. Burns

It is hard to know where to begin writing about the train wreck that is Leap Year since I am not entirely sure what it is. I attended a press opening, so I assume it is not entirely an educational theatre collaboration between Shakespeare & Company and Bard College at Simon’s Rock because customarily such efforts are not open for review. But even if that is what it is, the production values are dismally low for Shakespeare & Company, which routinely turns out top notch productions in school gymnasiums with kids as young as eight or nine. In the handsome McConnell Theatre and with all the combined resources of Simon’s Rock and ShakesCo, this is a visual/technical embarrassment.

The script is poor, too. Playwright William Coe Bigelow is a successful writer for film and television, but this is his very first stage play and it shows. There was a staged reading of Leap Year during Shakespeare & Company’s 2009 Studio Festival of Plays, featuring Olympia Dukakis, and I noticed there was a larger cast involved, so some rewriting has taken place, but the play still badly needs the firm editing hand of a strong and experienced theatre director and/or producer. Shakespeare & Company Artistic Director Tony Simotes directed in 2009, but here he hands the directorial reins over to Stephen Rothman, who made his ShakesCo debut last season directing Parasite Drag [Review].

Both are experienced theatre professionals who ought to see the flaws in Bigelow’s script (not to mention the distracting hideousness of the set and costumes) and guide this production better.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

1 Comment
  1. Eva Friedner says

    Well, we just came home from “Leap Year,” leaving after the first act. This is such an important topic and so much could have been done with it, but as far as we are concerned it was the biggest dud of the summer and we saw lots of plays. The acting was good high school level. The only believable actor was the teacher. I could not empathize with any of them. There was no growth/development of characters; each scene was almost the same as the one before, no buildup. Have the producer or director ever seen a mother coming home from the hospital after delivering a child. Would she be carrying the car seat? Would she look like a skinny model right after childbirth? Wouldn’t you expect the parents to be holding, cooing, and singing to the baby? Wouldn’t you expect toys around from the two year old son? Wouldn’t you expect to hear sounds of the two year old playing or one of the children crying? This did not feel like a family. Mom did nothing to show she was a mom. Ugh! Love didn’t feel like love…it felt fake. My heart wanted to go out to them all but it just didn’t. I could understand some drinking, but why dwell on smoking…took away from the theme.
    I would like to see this play revised, revamped and better actors playing the roles. the theme has so much potential.
    I did not see the second act…maybe things developed there, but we just couldn’t stay. The play should have been cancelled when you all saw how few people showed up. We should have known better when you were selling two for one tickets even on Saturday!! I’m sorry that this play flopped.

    Yesterday, we saw Beauty Queen of Leeanne and there was an amazing sense of emotions, family, realness (except for the accent which was hard to understand). The actor were amazing. the story intense.

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