Theater Review: 'The Princess Bride' revives good old-fashioned fairy tale
September 29, 2012
Keeping in line with the trend of bringing classic fairy tales to life, WAVE Productions chose “The Princess Bride” as its first show of the year. However, instead of modernizing William Goldman's novel, the production's strength lies in its decision stay true to the original story and humorous tone.
“The Princess Bride” is a veritable part of pop culture that many are familiar with thanks to the 1987 movie. The story is set in the 1600s and follows Buttercup, a beautiful girl who has sworn never to love again after her true love dies unexpectedly. What follows includes a kidnapping, marriage and plenty of sword fights in a play populated by a motley crew of characters. The entire cast does a great job of depicting comical yet relatable and believable characters that the audience can’t help but root for. The oft-quoted Inigo Montoya provides many laughs as he searches for the six-fingered man who killed his father. Fezzik, the kind-hearted giant, is the most endearing in his search for friendship.
Familiarity with the story is certainly a plus, considering the production’s various locations. As a promenade and site-specific show, the audience travels to multiple sites, beginning with the courtyard outside of Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, followed by the Lakefill and ending near the East Lawn of Norris University Center.
As with any show performed outdoors, the actors compete with a myriad of sounds and distractions, from airplanes to talking pedestrians. Hearing the play proves to be difficult at times. Nonetheless, the locations were well chosen. Highlights include the rocks at the lake, which served as a mountain for Westley (Buttercup’s true love) to climb; the circular drain for Inigo’s final battle with the six-fingered Count Rugen; and the trees near the fire pit as the play’s fire swamp. The outdoor venue also allows parents and children to stumble upon the show and enjoy a unique theater experience.
The story-within-a-story structure also works well for the show. The first story features a father reading a story to his son titled “The Princess Bride.” Later, the father does double duty as the narrator and guide for the audience. At moments, the father and son interact with the characters, even joining in on the action by playing the roles of Inigo and his father, Domingo.
With well-choreographed sword fights and whimsical sound effects courtesy of a guitar and mini-synthesizer, WAVE’s “The Princess Bride” provides lighthearted fun that recalls childhood. Who says college students can’t enjoy good, old-fashioned make-believe?