Review by Willard Manus


Los Angeles -- Saundra Quarterman lights up the stage incandescently in the world premiere of SHAK'N, PART ONE, her one-woman show running through March 2, 2002 at Stages Theater Center in Hollywood. Conceived and performed by Quarterman, the show consists of excerpts from some of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets, plus a snatch or two of scripture. Quarterman, an African-American woman of statuesque beauty and presence, takes on daunting challenges in SHAK'N, if only because she refuses to restrict herself to speeches by such Shakespearean heroines as Portia, Lady Percy and Lady Macbeth. She dares us to also believe in her impersonations of King Henry V, Hamlet, Richard III and, yes, even King Lear.

Thanks to her considerable gifts as an actress and to her deep, powerful voice and impeccable diction, Quarterman succeeds in all respects. Credit for her triumph must also be shared with director Lisa Arrindell Anderson, lighting/stage designer Frederick Wenzlaff and sound designer Bryan D. Wilhite, who have combined to mount an Equity-waiver production that rates with the best of L.A.'s major theatres.

In Act One, which she calls "Lover's Melody," Quarterman goes from
Hamlet's advice to the actors to Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing to A
Midsummer Night's Dream (ingeniously using two small masks in portraying
Helenena/Demetrius). The scene transitions, accomplished with the aid of
sound & light, are swift and effortless--and they never get in the way of the language, which soars and resonates throughout.

In Act Two ("Sleeping Monster"), Quarterman delivers thirteen soliloquies and sonnets, most of which are packed with the intensity and pain people experience in the face of war (Henry V), betrayal (King Lear) and murder (Macbeth). As a change of pace, Quarterman also elicits bawdy laughter as Mistress Quickly (Henry IV).

SHAKIN, PART ONE (presumably Part Two will be mounted at a later date)
is highly recommended, not only to general theatre audiences but to those actors and directors with a special interest in Shakespeare. The latter should also note that Quarterman and Anderson will host a Shakespeare workshop at Stages in Feb. 20002.

Stages Theatre Center is located at 1540 N. McCadden Place.
Call (323) 465-1010 or visit