Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Review: Ye Old Sex Joke

Who doesn't need a good ol’ Jacobean sex farce in their life? Everyday Inferno has revived Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker's The Roaring Girl, a play about sex, passion, and identity, in bawdy fashion.
The Roaring Girl, a language-driven comedy follows a pair of young lovers, Sebastian and Mary, who seek to be wed and their scheme to get his father to agree by pretending to be in love with roaring girl Moll Cutpurse. Like many classic texts, The Roaring Girl has a main plot and an abundance of subplots. Thankfully, they’re mostly all captivating. Director Anais Koivisto seemed to have a blast bringing this script to life. First and foremost, Koivisto made a very smart choice avoiding accents. Since the script is already wordy and poetic, by keeping the actors on voice, it allowed for the story to be presented naturally. Koivisto and Co. kept the sex jokes a-plenty, making sure the audience knew exactly when they happened. You almost wished that it would have gone even further.
photo courtesy of Anais Koivisto 
To tell the story, it’s integral to have a strong group of actors tackle the Jacobian text. Though some struggled with the world, overall, there were some wonderful performances from the company. As the titular roaring girl, Malloree Hill was delightfully strong and appealing as Moll. Hill had a way with words and movement, allowing for that blurred line to shine through. Jacob Owen brought a hilariously charming ego to Sebastian. Owen was quick tongued and amusing. The highlight of the night was the brilliant performance by Max Hunter as Trapdoor. Hunter is an incredible physical comedian, as well as an alert improviser. Hunter made, what could have been, a throwaway role something of great worth. Hunter had some hilarious over-the-top at moments that you would have hoped could have been matched by the rest of company. Rebeca Miller had the opportunity to play an assortment of characters, finding much humor in each. Erin Beirnard and Jon Meyer as husband and wife Gallipot did a admirable job with their plotline. Though easily could have been shrunken down, they made their moments worthwhile. As the bawdy male trio, Joel DeCandio, Ryan Mills, and Sam Ogilvie took to the sexual humor well but they were not cohesive as a unit. Each seemed to have their own take on heightened character that seemed to contradict the other. Appearing as often as they did, a physical language may have been helpful.
The Gallery at the Access Theater is transformed into an explosion of color with an interesting use of space. Rather than a standard seating alignment, the actors utilize a long alley to perform with seating, for the most part, on either side. The tent-like atmosphere is like a reminder of that parachute you used to play with in gym class during elementary school. By containing the space, Koivisto made the production intimate. She used the makeshift wings of the tent to her advantage, allowing for physical comedy to shine. But the moment when things became awkward was the use of the risers as it pulled from the intimacy. It’s always attractive to have levels and different stage pictures but sight lines became an issue for some. And sadly, those moments were not as strong as when they were in your face. Lighting Designer Michelle Tobias went with simplicity and it worked fine. The draw is the comedy. The period costumes by Koivisto matched the colorful nature of the script. Keeping it in period was clever because nothing is funnier than men in tights.
Sure, The Roaring Girl is long but it’s nonstop fun. And fun is essential for a successful sex farce. The gender-bending story is poignant if you can comprehend the language. If not, just laugh along at the physical humor.