Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
The Gaming Table
Also see Susan's review of Red
Restoration playsthe term refers to the period after Charles II was restored to the English throne in 1660are known for their witty and risqué language and convoluted plots. Centlivre offers a slightly different perspective: while comedies from this period are famous for their ladies of fashion, fops, rakes and clever servants, she created four leading ladies with unique personalities and goals.
Lady Reveller (Julie Jesneck), a youthful widow, enjoys basset (a card-based gambling game that could be responsible for sudden fortunes and bankruptcies) and hosts the game nightly in the London house she shares with her crotchety uncle Sir Richard Plainman (Michael Willis) and Sir Richard's daughter Valeria (Emily Trask), a scientist. Lady Lucy (Katie deBuys), Lady Reveller's cousin, finds gambling morally problematic but still admires one of the regular players, supercilious Sir James Courtly (Michael Milligan). And Mrs. Sago (Tonya Beckman Ross), the overly ornamented wife of a merchant (Darius Pierce), loves the game and schemes to cover her losses.
Holdridge has brought together these diverse characters, and their skilled portrayers, into a harmonious unit. Ross captivates in her towering hairdo and dress ornamented with animal-print fabric and leather straps (costumes designed by Jessica Ford); she's well matched with Pierce as her foolishly besotted husband, so fascinated by her that he walks into one wall after another. Marcus Kyd plays Lady Reveller's suitor, Lord Worthy, as an overgrown child likely to throw himself onto a chaise and sob when thwarted. Trask is a hoot as a woman who would rather dissect animals than pursue romance. Emily Townley displays poise, and a pneumatic figure, as the maid Alpiew. And Jesneck presents Lady Reveller as a woman who enjoys taking chancesas long as the house always wins.
Scenic designer Marion Williams has taken her inspiration from M.C. Escher's skewed perspectives and towers that fold in upon themselves; she has created a three-dimensional maze in which some of the staircases are upside down and some of the wall sconces are nearer the floor than the ceiling.