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The Changeling
a Tragedy
CATEGORY : DRAMA
by Middleton and Rowley

COMPANY : Resurgens Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 4806

SHOWING : November 16, 2015 - November 20, 2015

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Beatrice-Joanna has a dilemma—she’s engaged to one man, desperately in love with another, and is being hideously blackmailed by a third. Is it any wonder that she becomes a “woman dipped in blood”? Resurgens Theatre Company returns to the Shakespeare Tavern this November with Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s celebrated tale of sudden death and shameless debauchery. Directed by Dr. Brent Griffin, this “original practices” production delves deep within the heart of wickedness to afford Atlanta audiences, for the first time in nearly four hundred years, “all [the] sweets that ever darkness tasted.”


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Brent Griffin
Diaphanta Janine DeMichele Baggett
DeFlores Thom Gillott
Jasperino Trey Harrison
Vermandero Joe Kelly
Alsemero Stuart McDaniel
Tomazo de Piracquo Michael Myers
Beatrice-Joanna Olivia Sloan
Alonzo de Piracquo Jim Wall
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Well-Spoken
by playgoer
Sunday, November 22, 2015
3.5
From a psychological viewpoint, "The Changeling" isn’t a very convincing play in Resurgens Theatre Company’s production. Beatrice-Joanna has three men who want to have her, only one of whom she wants in return. She convinces one of the unwanted suitors to kill the other, assuming that she can pay him off and that he will go into exile. Instead, the murderer demands her virtue in return. He starts to take it by force, but then, partway through, she willing gives it. The rest of the plot revolves around her trying to fool her remaining suitor into believing she is a virgin, even going so far as to pay off her loose-acting, but virtuous servant to take her place in the wedding bed, so that her new husband will experience the taking of a maidenhead. Add in her father, who seems to blithely accept one suitor, then the next, and shows little emotion when his daughter is dying, and you have a juicy plot with little believable underpinning in human behavior.

Most of this, of course, is the doing of playwrights Thomas Middleton and William Rowley, as edited by director Brent Griffin. The title may reflect the sudden changing of Beatrice-Joanna’s behavior, but the abrupt change is jarring in production. Mr. Griffin has done little to make the behavior make sense to modern audiences.

Also jarring is the music provided by Esther Morgan-Ellis, played on a cello and sung from the balcony of the stage. It overpowers dialogue, gives no period feel, and starts with a concert piece that shows off her virtuosity to no discernible end. Equally jarring is her smiling visage as she views the portions of the play that do not feature music. Director Brent Griffin has done her no favors by incorporating her contributions in this production.

With the exception of the underpowered voice of Michael Myers as Tomazo de Piracquo, the script is beautifully well-spoken by the cast. A consistent tone comes across, in contrast to the often flat and pedestrian speaking of Shakespeare’s verse in Georgia Ensemble Theatre’s concurrent "Romeo and Juliet." The vocal performances of the cast are excellent, even if the psychological aspects of the roles don’t always make sense.

Visually, the production relies on the costumes of Anné Carole Butler and Catherine Thomas for its beauty. Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern’s set for "The Tempest" is the background; lighting is a consistent candlelight wash. Luckily, the costumes are nicely rendered and consistent with the period. This is a good-looking production, despite the self-imposed limitations of "original practice" (performing the play with the same production values as in its original incarnation, with no modern theatrical effects).

Olivia Kaye Sloan is strong as Beatrice-Joanna, and Thom Gillott is even stronger as the murderous Deflores. Janine DeMichele Baggett is vivacious as servant Diaphanta, and Trey Harrison is as good as I’ve ever seen him as Jasperino, friend to victorious suitor Alsemero (played with quiet intensity by Stuart McDaniel). Joe Kelly, as Beatrice-Joanna’s father Vermandero, and Jim Wall, as unwanted suitor Alonzo de Piracquo, give understated performances that blend well with the rest of the cast.

"The Changeling" has been stripped of its subplot in this version, and seems a bit anemic and choppy as a result. It’s a Jacobean tragedy lite, with the richness of the original script pared down to the elements that expose the bare bones of the plot. It doesn’t give the feel of a full evening of theatre, condensing the five acts of the original into a 90-minute highlights reel. It’s a pleasure to see works of Shakespeare’s contemporaries on the stage, but in this case I would have preferred seeing more of the work on stage and less on the cutting-room floor. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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