The Washington Post

Next Season Preview: Shakespeare Theatre Company

Today, Shakespeare Theatre Company becomes the first of the subscription theaters in DC to announce its 2014-15 season. As the various companies in and around town announce what they’re doing next season, we’ll use this space to give you the lowdown–and some first impressions.

Company trademark: The classics, and then some.

The season:

–“As You Like It,” directed by Michael Attenborough.

–“The Tempest,” directed by Ethan McSweeny.

–“The Metromaniacs,” directed by Michael Kahn.

–“Man of La Mancha,” directed by Alan Paul.

–“Tartuffe,” directed by Dominique Serrand.

–“Enrico IV,” directed by Kahn.

Dates for these main stage productions were not announced. (“The Tempest,” “Man of La Mancha” and “Enrico IV” will be housed in the larger Sidney Harman Hall on F Street NW; “As You Like It,” “The Metromaniacs” and “Tartuffe” in the Lansburgh Theatre on 7th Street NW.)  The handful of special presentations that it imports from elsewhere, such as this season’s “Mies Julie” and “Man in a Case,” will be unveiled later.

Highlights: Attenborough, former head of London’s Almeida Theatre (and son of actor/director Richard Attenborough) is working at Shakespeare for the first time. So is Serrand, co-founder of Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis, who will be staging Moliere’s best-known comedy with Steven Epp in the title role. You may remember Epp in the company’s highly enjoyable 2012 presentation of “The Servant of Two Masters.” Kahn’s direction of “Enrico IV,” by Luigi Pirandello, will  showcase a rarely revived 20th Century play, in a translation by Tom Stoppard. And Kahn’s staging of “The Metromaniacs” by Alexis Piron, a 17th Century French dramatist, is being billed as yet another world premiere adaptation  for the company by prolific David Ives (“The Liar” and “The Heir Apparent”).

Analysis: This is a far more balanced and intriguing season than the chestnut-packed roster for 2013-14, when the company has not only produced “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “The Importance of Being Earnest,” but “Private Lives” as well. The syrupy “Man of La Mancha,” with “Forum” director Paul again at the helm, is filling what seems to be a new slot at Shakespeare, a position for an old musical that we’ll call its Offering-Of-Last-Resort.

While it’s disconcerting to think of “La Mancha” as the season’s likely top earner, serious playgoers can overlook the nod to box-office realities by focusing on all the other potential goodies. “The Tempest” and “As You Like It” and even “Tartuffe” are mainstream choices that nonetheless might be surprising, given their accomplished directors. (Interestingly, only 33 percent of the Shakespeare main stage season will be Shakespeare; this season, it’s 50 percent.) Adding Pirandello’s 1921 play, about an actor who falls off a horse and wakes up thinking he’s the emperor he had been playing onstage, is refreshing. The return of Ives, again mining French classical theater for modern wit, is always a positive indicator. And let’s hope the inclusion in the season of an actor like Epp–the only casting so far to be announced–is the harbinger of other enticing refreshments.





Peter Marks joined the Washington Post as its chief theater critic in 2002. Prior to that he worked for nine years at the New York Times, on the culture, metropolitan and national desks, and spent about four years as its off-Broadway drama critic.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
In defense of dads
Play Videos
How to make head cheese
Perks of private flying
The rise and fall of baseball cards
Play Videos
Husband finds love, loss in baseball
New hurdles for a Maryland tradition
How to survive a shark attack
Play Videos
Portland's most important meal of the day
What you need to know about Legionnaires' disease
How to save and spend money at college
Next Story
Joe Heim · February 2, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.