A cynical, riveting Hamlet

Eclectic Theater Company’s spare-yet-bold production of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” features Rik Deskin as a Prince of Denmark who is particularly sympathetic and raw.

By Tom Keogh

Special to The Seattle Times

Decisiveness isn’t Hamlet’s strong suit. He’s all confusion and ambivalence. But in Eclectic Theater Company’s spare-yet-bold production of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” Rik Deskin delivers a Prince of Denmark particularly sympathetic and raw when his father’s ghost (Dennis Kleinsmith) scolds his son for inaction.

Deskin looks like a tormented and shamed little boy when he is supernaturally chewed out by the murdered king for not killing his assassin, Claudius (also played by Kleinsmith), in a timely way. And Deskin’s pained approach in ETC’s vital, 3 ½-hour staging suggests that Hamlet’s futility stems from primal terror more than anything else.

Terror would also explain why this Hamlet is more of an unbridled tyrant than a romantic anti-hero. He’s peevish, predatory (hitting on a female version of Guildenstern, played by Carolyn Monroe), unflatteringly cynical and shockingly dismissive of the touchstones of his inner life. This is a Hamlet who does not put on existential brakes while tossing aside the remains of his childhood jester Yorick.

Yet Deskin’s Hamlet, twisted by all the subterfuges, double-crosses and politicking going on in Elsinore, still comes across like a longtime friend who’s suddenly gone over the deep end.

The tactically inspired double-casting of the superb Kleinsmith underscores a central question in this production directed by Cara Anderson-Ahrens. Does history really change through an exchange of kings? Or through sweeping acts of revenge? The intimate space at Capitol Hill’s Odd Duck Studio has a way of wrapping those questions around an audience, as does “Hamlet’s” fine cast.

Tom Keogh:

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

Eclectic Theater Company’s September Skies: Courtship & Portents

September Skies PosterI thought I knew what I was getting into with Eclectic Theater Company‘s September Skies, which I saw in preview at Odd Duck last weekend. The iconic images of the Twin Towers dominate the advertising, emblazoned on posters and webpages. The show, up this weekend through October first, runs on the ten-year anniversary of the events of 9/11. I expected a meditation on the culture of our country, before and after the attacks. I expected ruminations on pressing issues. I expected an exploration of the American psyche in an time of ongoing war. I expected the play to be topical, political, maybe upsetting.

But September Skies is not what I would classify as a ‘9/11 play.’ It’s a courtship play, loaded with comedy but ultimately a drama in which actions have consequences, bruises rise to the surface, and a grisly fate looms. Seattle playwright Jim Moran, who penned the work, states that the play began as a boy-meets-girl piece, beneath which the backdrop of 9/11 was added subsequently.

So the heart of the play is not calamity, but a relationship in the process of discovering and defining itself. The predominant dramatic question through most of the narrative is, “Will Amy cheat on her fiance?” The story could just as well be set in February or in 1982 or in Denmark. The only major component lost would be a sense of fate-play, which evolves into (preordained?) conclusiveness.

September Skies is effectively a two-person play, starring David Foubert and Cheryl Platz as Dave and Amy. A third actor, Rik Deskin, does handy work as ‘the ensemble,’ playing several smaller roles, but textually Dave and Amy are the only characters to give the narrative forward movement:

They’re less than acquaintances as the curtain rises on scene one. A delayed flight and a series of social tactics, an itchy attraction, a curiosity, compel the two to spend some time together, and they develop a degree of affection and even trust. When the dust settles after a whirlwind night of getting-to-know you they must examine the aftermath, grapple with what it means and, deliciously, decide.

The skill of the playwright is clear in his ability to keep the story clipping along with so little. We have two people, a chair for each of them in each scene, some minor props, but there’s little going on in the way of bells or whistles. And yet the play is engrossing throughout, and little seems superfluous. A few pleas and confessions rang in my ear as unearned, but these don’t detract much from the drama at large, which is earnestly patient and sincere. September Skies might remind one of Before Sunrise: A little melancholy and dark, a bitterness to the aftertaste, but still a glimmer of a strange, good thing shared.

Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Sunday at 2:00 p.m., Special Matinee Saturday, October 1, at 2:00 p.m., through October 1 // Odd Duck Studio, 1214 10th Ave // $10 – $25, PWYC, tickets available throughBrown Paper Tickets or at             (206) 679-3271      

Contact the author of this article or email with further questions, comments or tips.

By John E. Allis in  on September 9, 2011 11:00 AM

“September Skies” at Odd Duck Studio

September 10, 2011 | Author 

It’s September 10, 2001, and a man and woman at Boston’s Logan Airport learn, much to their annoyance, that their flight to Los Angeles has been cancelled. Alternative plans must be made. They begin to talk. He’s clearly interested in her. Although she just wants to get back to her fiancé, there’s something about this fellow traveler. A spark is kindled. They make some decisions. Who could have predicted what would happen on 9/11?

Playwright Jim Moran’s “September Skies” which is premiering in this production is one of those quiet little pieces that sneaks up on you. You’ll not forget it. The 90 minutes in the theatre, leave you with enough to think about for days to come. Chance, fate, missed opportunities, divine retribution—what role do these play in your own life? The play isn’t perfect. It could use some tightening, but it’s a powerhouse of a work in which so many little lines that seem to be hardly worth attention turn out to have profound significance.

Cheryl Platz as the neurotic Amy and David Foubert as the super cool Dave play off each other well. Rik Deskin proves himself the most versatile of performers.

And if you want an example of how successful a modest production can be, this is it. Set, sound, and lighting work well together to create the necessary ambiance and mood. This is no small feat when you are limited by a small budget.

This is definitely a small budget production with a big impact.

“September Skies” Light Up Odd Duck Studio
Drama In The Hood – Sep 05, 2011
By Ian McCarthy

“September Skies” is a new play written and directed by Jim Moran, and is now showing at The Odd Duck Studio on Capitol Hill. It takes place during the afternoon and evening of September 10, 2001 and on the following morning of the infamous day of September 11, 2001 at Boston’s Logan International Airport. The play revolves around a chance encounter between “Dave” (played by David Foubert) and “Amy” (played by Cheryl Platz) at the Boston airport, and explores how this chance meeting could have altered their destinies if they had had the courage to throw caution to the wind and had pursued their coup de foudre. Rik Deskin who plays a variety of characters including Airlines Agent, Lounge Guitarist, and Traveler rounds out the three-actor cast.

In terms of the acting, the show is well played. Foubert and Platz work well together and offer a natural delivery that is engaging and believable. They manage to make the audience believe in the otherwise unbelievable development of their affair. Deskin, as well, does a good job at differentiating the various characters he plays, and gives them substance where it lacks in the script itself. The stage design is minimalist and functional and allows the focus to remain on the relationship of the two protagonists without distracting. Kudos to the actors and designers for their work!

By Geno McGahee

Published on June 30, 2015

The shot on video horror of the 1980s and early 1990s was something special. The camcorders coming onto the market brought films onto the market which would have never seen the light of day otherwise. Filmmakers could make a movie for dirt cheap with their friends and there is a certain charm to that. In the 1993 SOV video “DEMON DOLLS”, we have a micro-budget paranormal horror movie by filmmaker, Todd Jason Cook, featuring a lot of ambition, creativity, and absurdity.

Scott (Todd Jason Cook) is hanging out with his slow buddy, Nick (Rik Deskin). The two attempt to raise a demon and succeed, with the spirit of some evil entity taking over a clown doll and demanding death. Scott refuses, but the doll begins to haunt him. Stacey (Lisa Cook), Scott’s wife, notices the changes in her hubby and begins to see some weird things.

The battle continues and the doll shows its incredible powers, controlling Scott and his friends and having them fight each other. They appear in demented clown makeup and battle with incredibly weapons…like rakes. This is a no-budget production…a rake isn’t a bad weapon for a no budget film.

Rik Deskin comically assists Todd Jason Cook in a scene from DEMON DOLLS (1993)

Bodies pile up and things get terrible for the couple. Stacey begins seeing her husband on the television, stuck in some other reality and then she is surrounded by her hubby, one of each side of her. Scott sees his wife crawl seductively to him, only to expose monster teeth. She then turns into himself, on his knees, in front of him. OK, that clown is demented.

A few things that I found really awesome about this film that I want to note… One, both Scott and Stacey are wearing Married with Children T Shirts and I love that show. Scott actually sports many shirts that show the time when music was transitioning from metal to grunge, wearing a Nirvana T shirt and a Faith No More T shirt as well. I assume that Todd Jason Cook had to have worked at a video store to have so many horror posters covering the walls in his room. It brought me back to my younger days when I was filming with a VHS-loaded camcorder and my walls were covered with horror posters. Another note that should be made is the resourcefulness of this group. They did a lot with a little, doing some rather cool effects for the time.

DEMON DOLLS is a film that you’re going to either love or hate. Many today would not understand it or give it a chance, but if you get what micro-budget horror is, you’ll dig this. There is a lot to love about this movie, including the look and the heart that is in it, but you can see the love of the genre that they had. This was a serious attempt at making something cool on a budget of five cents. They accomplished it. I highly recommend this one…unless you don’t like micro-budget films…snob.


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