Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wisey Best Costume: Comedy of Errors, GreenStage

The nominees for best costume are:

Titus Andronicus, GreenStage. Janessa Jayne Styck, costume designer.
The Comedy of Errors, GreenStage. Janessa Jayne Styck, costume designer.
The Servant of Two Masters, Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Christal Weatherly, costume designer.
A Confederacy of Dunces, Book-It. Doris Black, costume designer.

And the winner of 2009's best costume goes to Comedy of Errors, GreenStage, Janessa Jayne Styck, costume designer.

Comedy of Errors directed this summer by Ryan Higgins did pretty much everything exactly right, and costumes were no exception. Cross-staging and cross-dressing take some effort and imagination and everyone pulled it off with panache. I won't soon forget Michael Blum in Marge Simpson pink hair and a red dress, or Patrick Bentley and Rio Codda in drag. The Dromio twins really did look alike, which was partly magnificent casting (where did Higgins find Adria LaMorticella and Esra Chelen Guler? They were fantastic!) but also meticulous costuming. The comedy in this production is very, very physical (it has to be in Errors, doesn't it?) and the costumes—or should I say fabrications?—by Janessa Jayne Styck held up. 

It's gotta be tempting and easy for directors to set C of E somewhere...anywhere...other than the neighborhood of 1594 England. We recently saw it set at the OK Corral at OSF. Well, okay. Higgins played it straight (ahem) and showed what could be done with Shakespeare's early effort by wringing every puerile gag out of it from within the tradition of 16th century, outdoor, raucous comedy. Bravo.

We saw two shows with pink hair this year. Christal Weatherly and the costume department at Oregon Shakespeare Festival clearly had a great time with The Servant of Two Masters. The New Theatre was a great venue for seeing all the details up close, from the patchwork of Truffaldino's coat (which incorporated a brassiere cup as a handy pocket) to Whipped Cream & Other Delights as headwear to the quickest costume change in theater to get Beatrice into a dress. We even had fake blood! (Is theater gore part of the costume or props department? hmm.)

Speaking of theater gore, GreenStage's Titus Andronicus also gets a nomination for costuming everyone in fake blood. And I mean everyone, including the audience. One poor soul wore white and sat in the front row...irresistable to the actors armed with fake-blood-squirty-devices (is there a technical name for that? somebody help me out here...). The costumes were pretty simple (they're just going to get soaked) except for Aaron's as an elaborate clown costume. GreenStage doesn't have anything like the budget of OSF, I presume, but Janessa Jayne Styck does the absolute most with what they have.

A Confederacy of Dunces at Book-It Repertory Theatre relied heavily on its costume department because the story is so much about how the characters are presenting themselves and the different personas they try on. Doris Black did a great job. The attention to detail and faithfulness to the book were superb. The costumes were funny and perfectly suited the characters, in their outrageous ill-fitting way.


xitshsif said...

Minor correction: the costumer's name is Janessa Jayne Styck. She's currently working on the short film, Wolfsbane.

Weisenheimer said...

Thanks for the catch on that, xitshsif.

Anonymous said...

Janessa you are the best!
Love you,
Aunt Charlotte