“Rude Mechanics” Struts and Frets Funnily in Bridge Street Season Opener

Bridge Street Theatre opened their 2023 Season, which they are calling “A Holiday for Misfits,” with “Rude Mechanics,” a World Premiere comedy by local playwright Eric Hissom who also directed. It is a backstage, or rather onstage, panic attack of laughs as we gather inside a darkened playhouse on a snowy night in London, 1612 and listen to a Lord Chamberlain, Lord Strayte (Steven Patterson), lead a young actor Julian Crosse (Jack Rento) onstage where they start lighting the footlights and candelabra which will hang over the stage.

Steven Patterson & Jack Rento/John Sowle

A plague has taken out a couple of actors in the company, and Julian is going to get his big break playing Francis Flute in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which also entails he plays the grief-stricken damsel lover in the play within the play “Pyramus & Thisbe.” He is understandably nervous when the stakes are raised moment by moment with every piece of information. The performance is in an hour and a half, and it’s the 11th Night (the closing of the Winter Season); King James is attending, along with the Spanish King and dignitaries; his approval is vital, and… the privies are not available until the children’s theater troupe vacates the building.

Given the circumstances agreed upon, we are joined by three others throughout the play: Em Whitworth strikes an impressive figure as Rosemary Bassanio, a woman playwright who dresses as a man and presumably submits her plays under a pen name. Andrew Goehring is a self-obsessed actor recovering from a barroom brawl the night before and in hot pursuit of Rosemary and perhaps William Shakespeare (Patterson), who stumbles on drunkenly. There is also finally a spectral vision of Elizabeth I (Patterson…again). There are many, many laughs garnered over the lover’s spats, fights over authorship, and the tweaking of details in a plot that will become “The Tempest,” but finally, what we care about most and keep returning to is the young actor practicing his Thisbe.

Jack Rento, Andrew Goehring, Em Whitworth & Steven Patterson/John Sowle

Jack Rento is delightful as the young actor pouring himself into his role. His deathbed love scenes at Pyramus’s side are pitiable, hysterical and loud. This woman could wake the dead.

The stage is appropriately situated with entrances, exits and box seats. Still, I’m pretty sure I don’t understand the architecture of this theater and where they are coming from and going to. Sets and lights were by John Sowle. Costumes by Michelle Rogers look lovely, there’s a thanks in the program to Shakespeare & Co.

There are plenty of great laughs these fine actors whip up in the pursuit of their goal to entertain, but I’m afraid much of it was sound and fury.

Performance dates are Thursday-Sunday. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday curtains are at 7:30pm and Sundays are matinees only at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $28, and student tickets are available for $15. Runs approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. Contains sexual themes and alcohol abuse. It is recommended for ages 13+. Tickets are available online at https://bridgest.org/rude-mechanics-tickets, by phone at 518-943-3818, or at the door for any performance. For more information, visit https://bridgest.org or email [email protected].

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