3-Actor Comedy at Carte Blanche
Nearly half a decade ago, East Coast playwright Liz Duffy Adams debuted a comedy about Aphra Behn--a 17th century british poet, playwright and literary figure who had also worked as a political spy for the British government.
The life of such a fantastic historical figure is perfect for a contemporary stage play. Adams' thoroughly entertaining suspense comedy Or, takes full advantage of the Behn's remarkable life in a fanciful story that surmises that she might have had an affair with King Charles II. The plot, which involves a plot against the king and the completion of Behn's first big script, is very tight woven. Comedy alternates quite fluidly with suspense in a production that is well-orchestrated by director James Dragolovich.
Rachel Sandlin plays Behn. It's a great role and she's really good in it. Adams envisions Behn as a woman who was fiercely independent--a woman who wanted very much to carve put her own place in history. Sandlin is remarkably charming in the role. She's got a passion that animates the character quite well. Sandlin is refreshingly casual as a person of remarkable wit and aspiration. She's clearly heroic, but Sandln carries herself in a way that also feels distinctly earthbound. Sandlin makes for a very believable hero even as her character doesn't seem to be larger than life.
Zach McLain cuts an imposing figure in a couple of different roles including the king and a man who has become aware of a plot against him. McLain does a good job of presenting both personalities without exaggerating the difference. He's rendering two distinctly different characters with subtle differences, the more obvious end of which manifests itself in the form of high-born and working-class British accents. McLain has a really solid sense of the pacing, never rushing his engagement in the suspense of the plot.
Also playing multiple roles here is Brittany Bonnell, who plays legendary Restoration actress Nell Gwynn and Behn's servant Maria. Bonnell sparkles with charm as Gwynn. The script has her coming across as a dive, but there are also deep emotional feelings between Gwynn and Behn that give her a sense of depth. The romantic moments between Gwynn and Behn feel quite believably manifest on stage through Bonnell and Sandlin.
Liz Duffy Adams' Or, runs through June 9th at the Carte Blanche Theatre. For ticket reservations, call 414-688-7313 or visit Carte Blanche online.