Fight Design by Orion Couling

Author Jordan Pulliam wisely located his Melancholy Dane-turned-Dark Knight in the latter's realm, where the death of King Police Commissioner James Gordrick precedes the coerced marriage of his daughter, Barbara, to his successor, the Jester—a match that arouse the suspicions of her brother Hamlet (and cleverly skirts any copyright issues). Oh, but Shakespeare calls for swords and daggers, while Batman's world demands guns and other hi-tech weapons of mass distraction, and the small and oddly-shaped Cornservatory stage mandates violence kept within close range—so what's a fight designer to do?

Orion Couling of the E.D.G.E. school of stage combat does what you'd expect of an instructor who regularly conducts classes in light-saber and offers movement workshops geared for children. He places a mounting board in an upstage corner to hold rapiers, broadswords and daggers at the ready for the scenes that require them, and occupies the downstage environs with villains brandishing such exotic equipage as crozier, sledge-hammer, blacksnake whip and—just before intermission, naturally—a large jar, allegedly made of melting ice, containing a cobra whose fangs are chomped on a grenade! Of course, our heroes manage to free themselves of their bonds and roll the, literally, triple-threat device off the back of the stage to detonate harmlessly in a burst of foleyed bang-and-boom. Indeed, most of the weapons are no sooner displayed than they are abandoned in favor of kicks, punches, throws and titty-twists—a fight vocabulary safer for both actor and audience, but nonetheless executed with speed, precision and perfectly-timed knaps making for suitably breathtaking sequences of thrilling suspense.