‘Wittenberg’ — a bawdy battle of dark and light

  • Chris Mixon as Doctor Faustus, left, and Jeremy Beck as Hamlet in “Wittenberg” at the Peterborough Players. Photo by Will Howell

  • Tom Frey as Martin Luther and Chris Mixon as Doctor Faustus in “Wittenberg” at the Peterborough Players.

  • "Wittenberg" at the Peterborough Players. Photo by Will Howell—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, August 30, 2017 8:53PM

College students the country over are moving into their dormitories, and you might not see too many “Wittenberg” posters on the walls amidst the images of Bob Marley and Tom Brady that no doubt adorn their new digs. But the Peterborough Players’ latest production would be right at home in a beer-soaked frat house.

Equal parts “Van Wilder” and “Hamlet,” “Wittenberg” is a bawdy college comedy couched in the world of Shakespeare.

Hamlet (Jeremy Beck) returns to school at Wittenberg University, where he’s under the tutelage of Faustus (Chris Mixon) and Martin Luther (Tom Frey), the devil and angel on his figurative Danish shoulders. What follows in the David Davalos-penned script is ribald uproar and heady contemplation of life in its essence.

It’s an overt homage to the immortal Bard, mashing up Shakespearean wordplay with more contemporary banter.

Mixon’s Faustus is prone to devilish indulgence, dabbling in ale, debauchery with a disgraced former nun, and all manner of exotic, narcotic cure-all from around the world. The nimble-fingered lutesman performs twice weekly at The Bunghole, an aptly named college town meadery, strumming out The Who-inspired troubadour tunes in yet another example of the Renaissance getting a modern update.

Frey’s Martin Luther, on the other hand, is a more by-the-book sort, and by “the book,” I mean the Bible. His most exuberant outbursts come after nights of poring over texts and grappling with the devil — and that’s just his battle with constipation. (Something is truly rotten in the state of Germany, it seems).

Frey and Mixon are apt foils as they run through the witty script, playing off one another excellently and racking up another big haul of audience laughter for Frey, who puts a little extra unteachable gusto on each gesture and punchline.

If you like Shakespeare, or just like to laugh, the Players’ penultimate production of the season is worth a look.

“Wittenberg” runs through Sept. 10. Performances are Wednesday-Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. with an additional matinee performance on Tuesdays at 2 p.m.

Single tickets are $39 and a 6-ticket flex pass can be purchased for $204.

For more information, call 924-7585 or visit www.peterboroughplayers.org.