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Read Our Reviews


 2013 Season


I cannot tell you how impressed I was with this performance – it grabbed hold of me from the moment go to Judge Brack’s final words.

It was so intelligently staged and performed. I have seen many versions of Hedda in my life, and this one ranges among the finest. I have seen her being portrayed so mean that all other nuances – hesitation, vulnerability, jealousy, loneliness, and so on – were lost. The entire cast was impressive, and the staging, including costumes, lighting, and music, were all of one piece. I had to smile when I saw Mike Lovell’s interpretation of Munch’s Self Portrait with Skeleton Arm on the wall, behind the back-doors of the living room! He must have had fun doing that!

My congratulations to each and every one who made this such a rewarding and memorable production!

--Bente Torjusen: Director of AVA Gallery, Lebanon, NH


Twenty years ago, touring Europe, as my wife and I bussed into the coastal city of Bergen, Norway, we beheld an erect, stern-faced statue of Henrik Ibsen. He was enigmatic to me then, but the clarity of his mind as a playwright in the 1890's is more evident now. "Hedda Gabler" has come to life on stage at Colby-Sawyer College. A cast of superb actors play emerging academics of that era, accompanied by new music written for the play . . . Ibsen makes us think: why do we leave so many things up to others to fix, whether physically ourselves, or metaphysically others? Hedda not only does in others, she does in herself in the end. We must always look into the mirror and see who looks back.   

--Donald W. Clark, New London, NH

2012 Season 


These actors present convoluted passages in a sprightly manner.  In addition, they deliver lengthy, lyrical soliloquies in a bright, measured style, sharing the inner meaning and imagery with the audience. As delivered by these actors, the language is a pleasure to hear. 

---Catherine Bigley McGovern, Concord, NH; June 8 2012; Letters to Editor: Concord Monitor


The combination of Equity and local actors brings this riveting story to life. Beginning in a bar and ending on a barge, the actors and imaginative staging take the audience on a journey through the universal themes of parental love and the destruction secrets can cause.

---Judy Wallace, New London, NH; June 8, 2012; Forum: Valley News


It was a great pleasure to attend an evening of such quality, from the actors to the dramatic set of a coastal barge. The central characters bring an intensity to the play, a cut above the usual summer theater fare.

--Betsy Warner, Worthington, OH; June 7, 2012; Letters to Editor: Concord Monitor



2010 Season:



The NorthEast Shakespeare Ensemble Company's presentation of Shakespeare's powerful play Othello plays through Sunday at the Colby-Sawyer Center Theater in New London with a very talented, professional group of actors. The performance is so well done and such a special occasion for the Upper Valley region that I hope all live theater and Shakespeare fans will take advantage of this very excellent production. I hope NESE will continue to offer this area such artistic productions in the future. This group deserves the community's support. Bravo!
---Mary L. Eckert, New London, NH; May 28, 2010; Forum:  Valley News

2009 Season:



Last Thursday, a number of us laughed ourselves silly at a truly joyous production of Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors, presented by the Northeast Shakespeare Ensemble at the Lebanon Opera House.  I have neither the knowledge nor the background to offer an enlightened appraisal of this particular production of Comedy of Errors, but I can assure you, we were treated to antics and high jinx by actors who most assuredly knew their way about a stage, who had the timing and the ability and the passion to squeeze the fun from those wonderful lines, and who had us holding our sides.
---Tom Brody, June 2, 2009; Letter to the Editor:  Valley News

2008 Season:



Do you want an enjoyable night out when you'll laugh a lot and end with a smile on your face?  The performance of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing at the Lebanon Opera House will exceed your expectations -- and remind you that the Bard was a genius at comedy, not just tragedies like Hamlet.  After the show, I overheard the couple behind me say: "What fun" -- "Great show."  Walking out, everyone was smiling.

The play - if you read it - might seem a confusing tangle of characters, odd personalities, and improbable love affairs.  On stage, before intermission, it's a stream of gags that had the opening night audience laughing non-stop.  Then two improbable marriages take place.  One requires a ploy in which the pretended death of the future bride overcomes all resistance.  In the other, a couple -- each having sworn never to marry -- fall madly in love and you can guess the rest.

The performance by the NorthEast Shakespeare Ensemble is well acted, rapidly paced, and graced by light-hearted music and dance.  The cast, comprised of talented players from the bi-state region and beyond, is excellent.  The Director John Goodlin, his staff, and the excellent cast are to be congratulated for a wonderful addition to the varied fare of entertainment available to residents of the Upper Valley.  
---Rodger D. Masters, Hanover, NH; June 20, 2008; Letter to the Editor:  Valley News

2007 Season:



In the second act, John Goodlin’s long denunciations of sexual hypocrisy as Lear are brilliantly incisive, and when he mockingly says things like "Let copulation thrive," no one has any trouble understanding what he means. Likewise unmistakably clear and poignant are his final words over the body of Cordelia.  [In addition to Mark Irish’s commendable portrayal of Edgar, other performances also stand out.]   To cite just a few examples, Dale Place forcefully captures the credulity of Gloucester along with his impulsiveness, his kindness, his frailty, and his desperation; Donna Sorbello and Dee Nelson vie for power ruthlessly as Goneril and Regan, while Nurit Monocelli's Cordelia melds filial sweetness with a steely sense of what is right and wrong. Best of all, I think, Andrew Clateman does a brilliant job as the fool, playing his long-tasseled jester's cap the way Heifetz once played a Stradivarius.
 ---James Heffernan, Hanover, NH, June 25, 2007


Shakespeare speaks to theater goers in a timeless, universal way, but Shakespearean drama also provides a local perspective.  Such is the impact of the NorthEast Shakespeare Ensemble’s production of King Lear at the Lebanon Opera House.  This very accessible performance brings together national, regional, and local talent, but it also serves as a springboard for Upper Valley action through a number of its outreach programs. Specifically, Sean Eastman, NESE’s Educational Workshop Leader, spent a two-hour block of time with my Hanover High Shakespeare students working on movement and interpretation for the production of their own scenes.  If that were not generous enough, NESE gave each of my students complimentary tickets to see the production of Lear.  There is also the work NESE is doing with The Children’s Literacy Foundation.  As for the production itself, I strongly recommend going to see it and supporting this wonderful work.  The show was accessible and clear, great for first time viewers, and boasted a dramatic, monolithic, multileveled set and evocative costuming.  Performances were strong across the board, but I especially enjoyed the work of the Gloucester brothers, Edmund and Edgar, played by James Spears and Mark Irish.  We are blessed to have access to good theater in the Upper Valley.  It is important for us to acknowledge this through our support of that theater.  So, go see Lear, support NESE financially, and, in return, get something good for yourself.  As Lear reminds his daughter Cordelia, “Nothing comes from nothing.”
---Joe Bonfiglio, Hanover, NH; June 28, 2007; Forum:  Valley News

2006 Season:

James Shapiro, Professor of English at Columbia University, Renown Shakespeare scholar and author of A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599.

"[A Midsummer Night's Dream] was a wonderful production--impressively acted, funny as hell, and a pleasure to watch from beginning to end.  My ten-year-old son Luke loved it too, and when offered a chance to leave at intermission (already past his bedtime) was incensed at the very idea.  He and I got into a serious discussion of the play on the drive home to Thetford.  Who could ask for anything more?  Please pass along my congratulations to the cast and all those responsible."



When the blowhard Bottom gets his puckishly unjust desserts, we don't think - amazing! We say, "Ahhhh!" Which is what we can say of the... NorthEast Shakespeare Ensemble's A Midsummer Night's Dream... Under John Goodlin's direction, the production satisfies and often delights us. Its comedy rings nearly every bell in this fairy garden. James Sears plays a Puck both lively and powerful, no skinny sprite but a portly goblin courtier. He has Puck's manic magic - and that, Puck being to this Dream what Shylock is to Venice, means the show is a success. Second only in importance to Puck is the cast's Bottom, and Jeff Berry is a near-perfect his hilarious performance. The rest of the cast must share equal honors, since all its silly tradesmen and out-of-synch lovers worked at the same pitch...[with] energetic physical comedy [and] all did well by the Bard's most intricate metaphors and jewel-faceted jokes. As for production values ... the silvery set was dreamy [and] mortals were sumptuously and sexily costumed. [NESE's production of Dream] is a midsummer pleasure, a quick, bright thing. Enjoy.
---William Craig, Valley News, June 24, 2006

2005 Season:



D.L. Coburn "tragi-comedy" launches NESE season

Starring veteran Equity actors Kathleen Huber as Fonsia and John Goodlin as Weller, this highly acclaimed "tragi-comedy" in two acts draws us into the lives of two strong-willed retirement home residents desperately fighting to maintain their dignity, self-esteem and sanity while navigating their complex current relationship and gradually revealing the secrets and sorrows of their pasts...Through the many games of gin that are played in each act, Huber and Goodlin amply display their formidable acting talents with the subtlest of voices, gestures and facial expressions. In fact, we found ourselves anticipating newly dealt hands to see what instantly flickering, nuanced facial expressions by each of them hinted at their value... As Director William Michael Maher explained in the program notes, "the play, at its core, is a conflict of wills between two people trapped by their private circumstances. Their conflict is expressed through the gin game, not generated by it." Or, as D.L. Coburn has said, "The card game is a metaphor for fate and how the events of life are dealt to us. We have to play them as they come our way." ---Charles C. & Sue Bingaman, Eagle Times, August 25, 2005


2004 Inaugural Season:


I had the pleasure of attending opening night and was impressed by the professionalism of the company of Equity actors who managed to make Shakespeare totally understandable and fun! The whole family will enjoy this production with its colorful costumes, [and] energetic pace ... It is a great addition to the cultural atmosphere of the area and should be enthusiastically supported. We want them back next year! 
---Hilary P. Cleveland, New London, NH; July 29, 2004, Letters: The Union Leader



A new pearl has been added to the long list of cultural events that we have available ... We recently attended the inaugural performance of a new Shakespeare company, NorthEast Shakespeare Ensemble. ... This zany comedy requires true performing skill, split-second timing and an inner feel for the wit of the playwright. Everything about the performance was simply superb. The actors (a blend of New York "equity" talent and locals) performed this romp with verve and gusto, producing a show that was fast-moving and most entertaining. ... The company's outstanding interpretation and delivery of the words and thoughts of the great playwright presents yet another reason to live in and be proud of this wonderful part of the world! ---Richard C. Haines, Sunapee, NH; July 31, 2004, Forum: Valley News