Reviewed by Kenneth Laboy
Breaking the Shakespeare Code is thrilling. It is also thrillingly well-crafted. John Minigan’s dialogue is fast paced, quippy and profound. He weaves in classical texts to explore how the two protagonists communicate with each other. But the narrative is not a simple revue of Shakespeare’s canon, it is a study on the power dynamics at play in the central relationship.
Through a running time of 80 minutes, Minnigan manages to hold your interest in this would-be romance as his protagonists’ clash and antagonize each other. Each scene deepening the dynamics at play as the two perform for each other and become increasingly aware of these performances. And what performances they are! Minnigan’s text is intensely actable, but there is an intricacy to the text that could easily falter in the wrong hands. It’s a two person show that necessitates a strong hold on pacing, a command of lines to achieve that pacing and a clear understanding of the complex emotional beats. Miranda Jonte and Tim Weinert take the challenge with gusto. Not only are they adept at making sure the forward momentum never lags but they avoid emotionally dishonest beats. They are always active on stage, always pursuing a response from the other and that dynamic is electrifying. It is an emotional tennis match with both Jonte and Weinert making sure their partner has what they need to keep their performances grounded.
The promotional materials assure the audience that “this is not a romance” but by the end I left entirely seduced. A standing ovation for all involved.
Breaking the Shakespeare Code plays now through Sunday, June 2nd in The Black Box at 440 Studios (440 Lafayette St.)
Tickets can be bought at Eventbrite.com for $20: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/breaking-the-shakespeare-code-tickets-60150474689