Longtime Shakespeare fans who have taken in productions everywhere my wife’s Air Force career took us, we heard of the then Shenandoah Shakespeare and its Blackfriars Playhouse from my nephew when my wife was assigned to the Pentagon in 2004. We fell in love with the theater, and the quality of the acting blew us away – it was on par with anything we’d seen in London, New York, Chicago and the Stratfords.
It was Pyramus’ death by foot odor that hooked us. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bottom playing Pyramus in the spirit of great overacting used all sorts of mechanisms to kill himself, but then the actor crawled across the stage to a woman on one of the gallant stools who had taken off her shoes. Bottom picked up the shoe, put it to his nose and inhaled deeply, then fell over dead. That is the essence of the Blackfriars Playhouse experience: great acting and great interacting with the audience creating singularly great moments.
My wife was transferred to Utah soon after, but when, upon her retirement, we moved back to the DC area, one of the first things we did was reconnect with the now American Shakespeare Center, where we found that the talent level had reached an even higher level of sustained excellence. And their dedication to text-centric productions takes Shakespeare himself to a higher level of sustained excellence, too.
– Eric Minton of Shakespeareances.com