REVIEWS: The Devil You Know, or “Don’t”

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THE DEVIL YOU KNOW OR “DON’T”
(Shakespeare & Shenanigans)

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POSTED 6/6/2021 – Shakespeare and Shenanigans must be commended for their bold and fearless tackling of a medium the company has not yet explored. The world needs more willing to dive into the unknown and this scrappy little company certainly did just this! It was at times difficult to move through the poor sound and editing, however there truly is a tantalizing script to behold. A tension filled example of friends (or enemies?) at odds with each other and the writing is certainly the star of this piece. I hope this team continues to explore the medium, we have a voice worth exploring in this little piece!

–Lindsey Higgins, PortFringe 2021 Independent Review Team

POSTED 6/9/2021 – First, I would like to give props (ahhhh, see what I did there) to Shakespeare and Shenanigans, and all the Fringe artists this year, for rolling with the pivot to an online, video Fringe. One thing I love about theatre is that it is a collaboration between the artists and the audience, creating a unique-to-the-moment magic: the artists sharing with the audience and the audience giving their energy to the artists. As theatre artists, it can be challenging to create when you don’t have that give and take, making that magic. Yet Shakespeare and Shenanigans, and all of the Fringe artists this year, rolled with just one of the many punches this pandemic has thrown at us, and made Fringe anyways!

I wasn’t sure what I was going to see when I viewed The Devil You know or “Don’t” as little is given away in the title or the description, but I was looking forward to finding out. I was intrigued. The idea of characters that are friends, or enemies?, or friends?, but maybe enemies?, and playing with that uncertainty as they meet again, presumably after it’s been awhile, could open the door for some really interesting and fun play between them. I was excited to see how this dynamic played out. I am more invested and interested in characters when they, and their relationships, are complex, messy, and ambiguous, and it seemed like that would be what I was getting with The Devil You Know or “Don’t”.

While I went into it being unsure of what I was getting, I left it just as unclear of what I had seen. Half of the time, the sound quality was so poor, I couldn’t understand what was being said and I lost half the dialogue. As such, I wasn’t able to follow the story. I couldn’t really decipher the characters, what they wanted or their relationship because I couldn’t hear what they were saying, and they were never in the same shot together. That, combined with my inability to hear what was being said, left me wondering how these characters felt about each other and how they related to each other. One character was continually out of focus, making it hard for me to read their facial expressions, taking even more context clues away from me and adding to the confusion of what was going on. I was taken further out of the experience when I saw script pages being flipped, as it was a major distraction, and I was already straining to understand what was happening.

Overall, it’s an interesting concept, I just wish I had been able to hear all of the dialogue, see the characters interact, and to see them clearly. I highly recommend watching with closed captions (yay accessibility), or headphones, and/or reading along in the script if it’s provided.

–Ian-Mer Lindsey, PortFringe 2021 Independent Review Team

POSTED 6/9/2021 – The relationship between a bartender and patron can sometimes be somewhat complicated as depicted in Shakespeare and Shenanigans’ THE DEVIL YOU KNOW OR “DON’T”. What starts out as a typical closing time chat turns into something very different and not wanting to give away any secrets, the fate of the entire world may be at stake! Suze Quackenbush has written an intriguing tale with heavy influence from The Bard and stories from classic literature. The leads, Mara Monaghan and Adam Ferguson, are very good and seem to be enjoying their colorful banter.

–Mark Magee, PortFringe 2021 Independent Review Team