Berkshire Stages Kick-Off Summer Season – by Tom Holehan

A weekend trip to the Berkshires, under two hours from Stratford, is not only scenic but a cultural oasis! I was delighted with a recent trip to Massachusetts where the Berkshires’ professional theatre companies are up and running.

There’s a clever high concept play currently at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield where “A Tender Thing” by Ben Power is in residence through July 20. What would happen if Romeo and Juliet did not die and moved into old age together? That’s the basic premise in Power’s intriguing work performed in just under 90 minutes without intermission. The playwright utilizes iambic pentameter and reconfigures several lines from “Romeo and Juliet” as well as “Twelfth Night” and a few Shakespeare Sonnets. It’s advantageous to have a basic understanding of “R&J” and I wonder if it would help the play to have a younger and older pair of actors playing the roles since it does flashback to their youth. Candy Buckley and Derek Smith are fine as the couple without generating many sparks and director Alan Paul stages fluidly. This is an interesting idea that could still use another revision. Or two.

Upcoming at Barrington Stage is the comedy farce “Boeing Boeing” by Marc Camoletti (July 17-August 3) starring the terrific Mark H. Dold and the even-better Debra Jo Rupp. Also planned is the world premiere of Mark St. Germain’s latest, “Forgiveness” (July 30-August 25), a courtroom drama. Any new play from the author of “Camping with Henry & Tom” and “Freud’s Last Session among many others, is reason enough to pay attention.

In Lenox, a new/old play by Lee Blessing is currently on the boards at Shakespeare & Company. With a new ending, Blessing’s “A Body of Water” is a revision of a play that he wrote nearly 20 years ago. Subtitled “A Play in Three Days”, the drama begins when an older couple (Caroline Calkins and Kevin O’Rourke) meet on the deck of a waterfront home and have no memory of each other or why they are there. Into the confusion enters Avis (Bella Merlin) who may or may not be their lawyer or daughter. Blessing’s play reminded me of the early works of Edward Albee and focusses, it seems, on the nature of identity and need. I found it all fascinating and consistently interesting with a solid cast under the direction of James Warwick. It’s a play that will generate plenty of conversation afterwards so much so that it’s worth seeing twice. It continues in Lenox through July 21.

The theatre has a full slate of productions coming up including, of course, some Shakespeare (“The Comedy of Errors” and “The Winter’s Tale”) as well as two world premieres, “The Islanders by Carey Crim and “Three Tall Persian Women” by Awni Abdi-Bahri. The regional premiere of “Flight of the Monarch” by Jim Frangione and “Emma” by Kate Hamill are also in a diverse season that continues well into the fall.

For further information about these great theatres and all the Berkshires has to offer, visit Shakespeare & Company at and Barrington Stage Company at

Tom Holehan is one of the founders of the Connecticut Critics Circle, a frequent contributor to WPKN Radio’s “State of the Arts” program and the Stratford Crier and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company. He welcomes comments at: His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website:

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