If you just skimmed the news about the Walla Walla Shakespeare Festival, as I did at first, all you might notice about the play now running at the Power House Theatre might be "Whitman grad," "Spider-Man," and "Broadway."
All this is true enough, but the real story is that "Swansong," the play by Patrick Page, is an enthralling evening of theater, recreating and re-imagining the lives of William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. The two literary giants shared a convoluted friendship and rivalry that ends badly.
The play is intricately crafted to reveal the both the tensions of their relationship and the emergence of theater as an art form. "Swansong" takes us backstage to see Elizabethan theater as the raucous and risky business it was.
Jonson and Shakespeare argue strenuously over the merits of each other's successes and failures and quarrel, in part, over whether Shakespeare's plays are even worthy of being published in book form.
We are all blessed in how that argument turned out, and our community is blessed to have a venue as wonderful as the Power House Theatre, and to have three gifted and skilled actors to bring this story to life in such a compelling and entertaining drama.
The classic Shakespeare at the Fort Walla Walla is a wonderful experience as well, but don't overlook the play you didn't study in high school.