Lovers and Madmen invites audience to a wedding with love, pasta


Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

Performers rehearse a scene from Lovers and Madmen’s fall mainstage production. “Cardenio” opens Oct. 6 in Shanley Pavilion.

Katia Podtynov, Reporter


After reading four pages of descriptions of pasta, Communication sophomore Gracie Brakeman knew she had found Lovers and Madmen’s fall mainstage play.

Lovers and Madmen, a member theater board of the Student Theatre Coalition, typically produces original Shakespeare plays, with its previous season featuring classics like “Titus Andronicus” and “Twelfth Night.”

But Brakeman, the fall show’s producer, said she and director Adam Orme, a Communication junior, were not interested in doing “straight Shakespeare” this time. Instead, she said they were looking to find an adaptation that explored why people tell old stories and why they perform classical theater.

“We wanted to do an adaptation that was very much a departure from what you would expect,” Brakeman said.

Brakeman and Orme found this in “Cardenio,” a play that celebrates love while examining ancient romantic narratives. The show will premiere Thursday in Shanley Pavilion.

“Cardenio,” written by Charles Mee, is the story of an eccentric retired couple who claim to have found the lost manuscript of a Shakespeare play, “The History of Cardenio,” and decide to perform the play at their son’s wedding. The boisterous wedding is filled with larger-than-life characters as well as seduction, feuds, songs, lies and pasta.

“Cardenio” comprises a series of layered adaptations, Brakeman said. The play is adapted from the long-lost Shakespeare play, which is itself adapted from a story in Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote.” Directors putting on the show adapt it in a unique way to fit their vision, Brakeman said.

“I hope people have fun and take a step back and look at the idea, at how stories are passed on through these many adaptations, and how the story changes but the essence remains the same,” Brakeman said.

“Cardenio” is primarily rooted in the modern world, but includes aspects of a classical Elizabethan story with sonnets and some classically-inspired costumes.

“It’s basically, at its core, about how we accidentally and unknowingly live out really ancient narratives of love and romance, especially at weddings,” Orme said.

Communication sophomore Alex Jackson, who plays the anti-romantic interest, said the production team had to find the delicate balance between contemporary language and Shakespearean poetry.

Jackson said he wants the audience to leave having experienced the emotional truth within personal relationships.

“I want this play to make you believe in love, how messed up it is, how beautiful it is at the same time and have everyone in the same space together, having fun and experiencing the story together,” Jackson said.

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