Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
|A CurtainUp Review
The Roaring Girle
The aim of Taylor's Drowing Crow, an adaptation of The Seagull, was to follow the story line but show the link between Chekhov's Russians and African-Americans, between Teplev's cry for "new forms" and rap poetry.
Alice Tuan's source is a much less familiar and popular play, Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker's The Roaring Girle which centers around an early 17th Century cross-dresser named Moll Cutpurse, a.k.a. "governess of the underworld." Her motivation: to mine this mostly forgotten play for its relevance as a contemporary political satire. The adherence to the original is much looser, with the infamous Moll now a playwright-heroine who refuses to buckle under to a regime where business interests have subverted free speech. Melanie Joseph's production supports Tuan's concept visually. Middleton's "Comfortably Well-Off" wear early 17th Century costumes but often carry shopping bags imprinted with trendy names, while "The Striving Class" includes a homeless person covered from head to foot in black plastic garbage bags.
Since the Middleton-Dekker play, unlike the popular Seagull, has been pretty much put on the theatrical backburner as unproducable, Tuan's free-wheeling update would seem to raise fewer questions about diddling with something that still works well as written. At the start it promises to be another of the Foundry Theatre's intriguingly off-beat ventures. The costumes are amusing. The set is fun, with an amalgam of props and posters that swing open and shut like windows for appearances by the multi-tasking actors.. Unfortunately, the blend of Jacobean dialogue (often in rhyme) and contemporary references make for more of an extended and often hard to follow vaudeville skit than the desired sharp-edged satire. Nor is this new-fangled adaption as artistically satisfying as another work of Middleton's (with a different collaborator), The Changeling seen seven years ago.
The Roaring Girle, like Drowning Crow is the victim of the author's love affair with allusions which tend to grow tiresome. Okwui Okpokwasili is a most energetic Moll but her facility to make much of a mostly silent role in Richard Foreman's Maria Del Bosco (our review) does not work in the opposite direction. Too often she seems uncomfortable with the big chunks of verse Tuan has written for her. There are some nice performances from the ensemble. A few that stand out include Andrew McGinn's comic servant Trapdoor; Jodi Lin and Michael Urie as the star-crossed lovers, and Marisa Copeland as Sir Dazy Dapper and businesswoman Pru Gallipot. Some of the less sterling performances surprisingly include John Epperson --best known as Lypsinka (reviewe) -- as Pru Gallipot's husband and a performer in Moll's Show of Shows named Lavenderia.
If the final preview of Roaring Girle I attended is any indication, it has yet another thing in common with the further uptown production of Drowning Crow: A sizeable number of people have trouble keeping up with what's going on and abandon the play at the intermission. On the other hand, a a there was enough laughter from the audience to indicate that many found the production a roraring success.
Other Foundry Theatre Productions we've reviewed: Lipstick Traces
The Race of the Ark Tattoo
And God Created Whales
Reviews of Other Middleton Plays:
The Changeling by Middleton and William Rowley
The Revenger's Tragedy -- 1930s set London revival
Mendes at the Donmar
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.