Cassandra Speaks-Reviewed

Cassandra Speaks

thru Sept. 2

Shakespeare & Co,

Lenox, MA

One woman. One scene. One spectacular performance. 

Shakespeare & Co kicks off its 35th season with the debut of a fast- moving. five star performance of Cassandra Speaks. This is a one- performer, one-set monologue performed by an extremely talented and compelling Tod Randolph, a fight-with-gusto and take-on-the-world portrayal of journalist Dorothy Thompson. And except for a temporary set back with technology—ok, I’ll get to the point, air conditioning—the performance was a flawless, compelling look at one of the twentieth century’s most notable female journalist writing her career away during one of the most notable times in world history.

To be sure, this brackish reporter was covering German politics during the 1930′s and was the first reporter kicked out of Nazi Germany. It was such a torrid time in human history, but suddenly we, the viewers, get to see it not only through the eyes of a journalist who was there, but also through the eyes of a woman with 20-20 vision on humanity, history, and the horrors of things to come. She reminds us, “I knew what he was going to do. He told us right there in Mein Kampf. Everybody bought the book and gave it to each other as Christmas presents. But I don’t think a single person read it.”

But Thompson did, and needed to meet Hitler one on one. As a journalist or as a woman? “I met him. He was short and pudgy. I looked at him, he was empty. I didn’t look at him and decide if he was someone I would sleep with. I wanted to instead light his mustache on fire. I said to myself, ‘He doesn’t have a chance of making it’. Boy, was I wrong.”

Thompson is played by Tod Randolph, who does a spectacular job of pulling a play long on words, wit and wisdom off without a hitch. She is a one woman dynamo, never missing a beat and thoroughly entrenching her audience with a view of the thirties. She does this all in the confines of a one room office, typing away, 90 minutes before her third wedding.

We saw the rise of a mad man to the fall of Pearl Harbor, all through the eyes of a spectator, all the while listening to her marriage and attachment issues. She was, at the end of the day, completely human, reminding ourselves that in the scheme of eternity, 1930 isn’t that far away.

One woman. One scene. One spectacular performance.

 Reviewer: Richard DiMaggio.

by Norman Plotkin

Starring Tod Randolph

Directed by Nicole Ricciardi

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One thought on “Cassandra Speaks-Reviewed

  1. Nicely done Rich. It was a wonderful,personal walk through that period of history. Amazing performance by Tod Randolph.