Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
The Silent Woman
Also see Tracy's review of Benchley Despite Himself
The Shakespeare Theatre is serving up a delightful offering in the form of its latest production, The Silent Woman. Penned by Ben Jonson, The Silent Woman is a light-hearted piece that focuses on a wealthy old man named Morose and his efforts to marry and produce an heir.
Morose is an odd sort of fellow. He can stand no noise and has gone to great lengths to keep his home as quiet as possible. The walls of his home are completely padded and he insulates himself further by going around with several stocking caps on his head. Even his manservant is forbidden to speak. Dressed in padding from head to toe, the poor man must communicate with his eccentric employer by the tap of a padded foot.
It is no wonder that Morose is ecstatic when he meets Epicoene. She is known throughout the town as a "silent woman." Morose quickly proposes and feels secure in the assumption that this woman will provide him with the serene life he desires. However, Morose soon finds out that his assumption was way off the mark.
Born eight years after William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson started his association with the theater as an actor. However, Jonson's talents were also suited to writing plays and he turned out quite a few including The Alchemist and Valpone. Jonson shows of a wicked sense of humor in The Silent Woman. The play is filled with gags and pranks that are extremely entertaining.
The play is directed by the Shakespeare's Artistic Director, Michael Kahn. It is obvious that he enjoyed working on this piece. Even though the play does lag a bit in the second act, the show as a whole moves at an invigorating breakneck pace.
Ted Van Griethuysen delivers a hilarious portrayal of Morose. Just watching him walk across the stage is enough to make one break out in laughter. Bruce Turk plays Morose's nephew, Sir Dauphin Eugenie, and does so quite well. Dauphin's partners in crime, Clerimont and Truewit, are played by Scott Ferrara and Daniel Breaker, respectively. They each have some wonderful moments and are highly enjoyable to watch. As the silent Epicoene, Ricki Robichaux very strong and connects well with the rest of the ensemble.
Additionally, one cannot comment on this production and fail to mention the performances of Floyd King (Sir Amorous La Foole) and Gregg Almquist (Sir John Daw). Both bring color and merriment to the piece.
The design team for this show has come up with creations that fit the spirit of the piece. Andrew Jackness's set design is made of vibrant vinyl walls and shocking pink chairs. The costumes by Murell Horton are no less eye-catching. They are big, bright and just a bit campy.
With all its comedy and hijinks, The Silent Woman is just plain fun. You can join in the laughter at The Shakespeare Theatre through March 9th.
The Shakespeare Theatre
Cast List (in order of appearance)
Ned Clerimont: Scott Ferrara