Double Falsehood (2016 Off-Broadway)
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A CurtainUp Review
Double Falsehood

Was it a Rape then? No. Her Shrieks, her Exclamations then had drove me from her. True, she did not consent; as true, she did resist; but still in Silence all. — Henriquez
double falsehood
Poppy Liu (Violante) and Nolan Kennedy (Duke Angelo) Photo Credit
The dubious DNA lurking in Double Falsehoodshouldn't prevent you from enjoying the Marque Theater Company's lively new production of Lewis Theobald's play at the Irondale Center in Brooklyn. Directed by Andrew Borthwick-Leslie, it is purportedly an adaptation of Shakespeare's lost play Cardenio (with contributions from John Fletcher), based on the first part of the 17th century Spanish novel Don Quixote.

Borthwick-Leslie truly beards the lion here. According to his program note, he hasn't tried to improve or amend Theobald's original text but simply lets it stand on its own theatrical merits. So what you get is an unvarnished look at Theobald's 18th century work with New York stage legs.

This fantastical tale is set in the province of Andalusia and echoes many themes and devices that Shakespeare often used: love and betrayal, patriarchal authority, sex and violence, letter writing, cross-dressing, and a pastoral subplot. The plot is sweeping with episodes that run the gamut from romantic (young people falling in love) to revolting (Henriquez's rape of the peasant girl Violante). And, oh yes. The title is a reference to the wayward Henriquez who falsely loves both Violante and Leonora and betrays the trust of his family and friends.

The nine-member ensemble look like they are having a terrific time. Though the play runs over 2 1/2 hours, their collective energy never flags. The esprit de corps, however, doesn't completely smooth over the performers' different acting styles. While the seasoned actors on board more than carry their roles, the less experienced actors sometimes fall short.

The stand-out in the cast is Poppy Liu who performs Violante. Liu inhabits the peasant girl early on with much conviction and sensitivity, and in later scenes a gutsiness that complements her male guise.

Several others in the ensemble deserve special notice: Ariel Estrada as Don Bernardo, Wellan H. Scripps, as Roderick, Tom Giordano as Camillo, and Scarlet Maressa Rivera, doubling as the Citizen and Gerald. They all riseto their dramatic moment and sturdily deliver.

Steven Brenman's set is inventive and intelligently uses Irondale's spacious performing area. He has designed faux archways and building facades for the court and village scenes, and resourcefully creates a pastoral world via hand-held props that simulate foliage. Joe Doran's lighting makes the performers are readily visible as they traverse the stage. Claire Townsends' period costumes are a nice mix of silken court outfits for the nobles and more rag-tag garb for the peasant folk.

A word on the play's authenticity. There are still Doubting Thomases who refuse to recognize Double Falsehood as a genuine Shakespeare work, pointing to its lack of memorable poetry as well as its unwieldy storyline. But these detractors had to pause in their arguments when Arden Shakespeare published Theobald's play in March 2010. The "orphan" play gained instant literary weight—followed by a flurry of stage productions, including the Classic Stage Company's in 2011 reviewed by Curtainup with Theobald listed as adapter ( Review).

Say what you will about Double Falsehood it passes muster as helmed by Borthwick-Leslie at the Irondale Center. it gives New Yorkers another chance see the Bard's Cardenio play, with a little help from playwright Theobald.

Double Falsehood
Directed by Andrew Borthwick-Leslie
Cast: Ariel Estrada (Don Bernardo), Tom Giordano (Camillo), Adam Huff (Henriquez), Nolan Kennedy (The Duke/master of the Flock), Montana Lambert Hoover (Leonora), Zach Libresco (Julio), Popy Liu (Violante), Scarlet Maressa Rivera (Citizen/ Gerald), Welland H. Scripps (Roderick)
Sets: Steven Brenman
Costumes: Claire Townsend
Lighting: Joe Doran
Fight Director: Michael C. Toomey
Stage Manager: Libby Jensen
Irondale Center at 85 So. Oxford Street, Brooklyn. Tickets: $20 (with some free RSVP tickets available). For more information, phone 718-246-2211 or visit
From 3/5/16; opening 3/13/16; closing 4/9/16.
Tuesdays through Saturdays @ 7:30pm.
Running time: 2 hours; 30 minutes with one intermission.
Reviewed by Deirdre Donovan based on press performance of 3/11/16
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