As you enter Colonial Williamsburg’s historic Kimball Theatre on DoG Street, its gilded molding and velvet curtains suggest a professional Shakespearian-esque performance. “A Grand Medley of Entertainments,” however, proceeds to leap upon the stage and loudly proclaim that when life hands you a problem, the best course of action is to whack it with a stick.
Playing at the Kimball Theatre until Dec. 15, this lively vaudeville show, presented in true 18th century fashion, depicts the elaborate misadventures of Owen Murdock’s traveling company. Full of wry, self-deprecating humor and well-staged madness, “A Grand Medley of Entertainments” proves to be a comedy of errors where even the most elaborate blunders provided constant laughs and seldom a dull moment.
Despite the actors’ jokingly arduous attempts to convince the audience to save their time and money in favor of the local taverns and their assertion that the show is “impossible to sit through stone-cold sober,” “A Grand Medley of Entertainments” proves appealing to audiences ranging from young scholars to the oldest patrons of the arts. From musicians and dancers to pirates and vicious man-eating porcupines, the company presents an interactive and enriching performance that causes raucous laughter to echo throughout the Kimball’s lobby far before the performance begins.
At the center of the melee is the company’s director, Owen Murdock, who struggles to guide the performance through each act despite numerous unforeseen mishaps. Accompanied by his irritable and ironically-named wife Patience, her three sassy spinster sisters and their gray-haired doddering father, Murdock corrals the production against all odds and provides enriching context ranging from the history of the war to the finer points of theater society.
The dynamic cast members demonstrate their comedic skills and talents with aplomb. From Matthew, the emotive storyteller, to Rafael, the juggler whose skills are as sharp as the knives he deftly tosses through the air, the characters lend a great deal of life and energy to the show.
Consistent use of the theater’s house lights attempts no pretense of a formal performance and a Spartan set allows ample room for the chaotic chases and hysteria that take place on stage. Costumes are historically accurate, in true Colonial Williamsburg fashion, but the show’s hair and makeup design lend transformative power and humor.
“A Grand Medley of Entertainments” is the perfect accompaniment to any evening in Williamsburg, with enough laughs to entertain everyone, from the lowliest of commoners to the most esteemed lords and ladies.