Monday, March 15, 2010

The Roman Actor

I must admit, I was totally unfamiliar with Philip Massinger & thus The Roman Actor before seeing the play. The only thing I knew about the play was what I had read on the ASC Website.

Denice Burbach, in perhaps her strongest performance yet on the Blackfriars stage is wonderful as Domitia, the wife of a Roman Senator (played by the multi-talented Tyler Moss, this guy has a tremendous singing voice!) who is selected to become a part of the egomaniacal & tyrannical Emperor Domitianus Caesar's (played by a deliciously evil John Harrell --think his role as the Dauphin in Henry VI, Part 1 without being nearly as likeable and increasing the ass factor by 10) concubine (played by Sarah Fallon, Miriam Donald Burrows, and Allison Glenzer). Domitia enjoys her new found fame and fortune and loves lording her position as Caesar's number one over the other three. She also falls for the actor Paris, played exceptionally by Gregory John Phelps. The main foil for Paris (and everyone's, really) is Chris Johnston's eternally offended Aretinus, who seems to hate actors because they make fun of the higher class. Ben Curns is his typical brilliant self as the freeman, Parthenius. In the end, Caesar is killed by those he has exiled or wronged- in other words, the entire surviving cast.

This performance was only the second one, and was actually the official opening night performance. While there were a few "prithees" called out, the show went off very well and the crowd seemed to be able to easily follow the action, even though I doubt many of us were very familiar with it. The play was a very good satire and an attack on power, politicians, and society in general.

The weekend we were there a play reading of Massinger's more famous A New Way to Pay Old Debts was staged, but unfortunately we had to return home before being able to see it. I hope to see this as part of a future season at the Blackfriars. Definitely see this rare and wonderful stage performance of The Roman Actor while you can!
Gregory John Phelps as Paris in The Roman Actor. Photo by Tommy Thompson.

No comments: