Review: The History of Cardenio at IUPUI 

***1/2
click to enlarge Gary Taylor and Terri Bourus, two minds behind 'The History of Cardenio.'
  • Gary Taylor and Terri Bourus, two minds behind 'The History of Cardenio.'

In this timeless story that intertwines themes of parenthood, love, friendship, trustworthiness, place of women in society and (gasp) reading too much, old is new and long ago is current.

Four hundred years ago, Don Quixote was a best seller, inspiring knock-offs by other writers, including one new writing team, William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, who saw dramatic potential in one particular episode from the sprawling novel: the story of Cardenio, a young man caught in a sad love quadrangle.

The original script to Cardenio was lost, then supposedly found, with parts missing, a hundred years later by a playwright who filled in the gaps. This adulterated version languished, piquing interest among scholars over the centuries, most recently Gary Taylor, who has spent twenty years determining what is original to Shakespeare and Fletcher and must be retained.

Experts in comedic drama, Shakespeare, Fletcher (and their various editors) parade before us a cast of over-the-top characters in The History of Cardenio. Yet we understand what motivates their choices and become engaged in their trials and tribulations. This in itself makes the play a worthy way to spend an evening in the newly developed IUPUI Campus Center Theater.

Taylor's recreation of The History of Cardenio, as directed by Terri Bourus and acted by an energetic troupe of players, is a rollicking experience. Is it Shakespeare? Is it Fletcher? Is it Taylor? Is it perfect?

No matter, it's delightful, with original music and proof you don't need lavish sets to be taken to multiple places. Go see for yourself. Through April 28 at the IUPUI Campus Center Theatre, 420 University Blvd.

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