Quote of the Day: In “Toil and Trouble,” Gunderson carefully parallels thematic elements and predicaments found in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” with the contemporary millennial reality. Brandon Raghu, director of Toil and Trouble on stage at Yellow Tree Theatre in Osseo, MN through March 3, 2024. 

Toil and Trouble by the popular and prolific playwright Lauren Gunderson is a comedy, with a bit of social commentary, even satire. Three young adults, who are trying to find their way in the world after graduating from college, start to fantasize about overtaking a small country and acquiring wealth and power. It parallels Shakespeare’s Macbeth in theme and (somewhat) plotline. The lines between reality and fantasy blur as the play progresses. Their relationships are tested. At a certain point, they turn on each other, but in the end, they are tight triangle of friendship, ambition, and self-reflection. This might not be a show for everyone as it is a bit absurd, but I certainly enjoyed watching it with the three young adults who accompanied me to the performance. 

Olivia Kemp, Jason Ballweber, and Alex Galick in Toil & Trouble at Yellow Tree Theatre, thru 3/3/24. Photo: Alex Clark

Jason Ballweber plays Matt. He’s a little nerdy and sensitive. He gets carried away with the thought of power and getting the girl. But, things don’t go smoothly, and in the end, he’s not as blood-thirsty as he needs to be. Olivia Kemp plays Beth, his friend and love interest, although, they really are just good friends. She is definitely much like the character she represents, Lady Macbeth. She is more calculating and self-serving, and willing to do anything to gain power. Alex Galick plays Adam. He’s somewhat the mastermind behind getting the country, figuring out the means via the internet, and all that, but he’s also a victim in all this. They all have some pretty funny lines. They also surprise us with their ruthlessness, even if it is in their fantasy life, and imagings of how to gain more wealth and power. 

Brandon Raghu directs this unusual comedy. Scenic Design by Sarah Brandner. Props by Brandt Roberts. Lighting/projection/video design by Alex Clark. (Fun use of old baseball footage, but it could have been a little louder.) Samantha Fromm Haddow designed the costumes.

This would be a fun one to attend with other theater friends who enjoy quirky characters and a little more off the wall thinking. I enjoyed listening for the connections to Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the overall performance of these three fine actors. You can see Toil & Trouble at Yellow Tree Theatre in Osseo, MN through March 3, 2024. 

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Who are some of your favorite Shakespeare characters? Have you ever thought about, or done, a story (like fan fiction or a parody) on them, or one of Shakespeare’s plays?