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A Woman Killed with Kindness
a Drama
by Thomas Heywood

COMPANY : Resurgens Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 5350

SHOWING : September 27, 2018 - September 29, 2018



Newly married John and Anne Frankford seem to have it all — nice house, devoted servants, and plenty of cash. But what happens when an amorous acquaintance enters their home? Sir Charles and Sir Francis appear to be the best of friends. But what occurs when blood and money come between them and their loved ones? After a fall from grace, is it “possible / To undo things done, to call back yesterday”? Such are the ordinary ills faced by the everyday inhabitants of Thomas Heywood’s "A Woman Killed with Kindness." “Look for no glorious state,” as Resurgens Theatre Company returns to the Shakespeare Tavern this September with “country measures” and the music of “heartstrings made [from] melancholy wood.” Directed by Dr. Brent Griffin, our “original practices” production fully invests in the colloquial rhythms and rustic cadences that make Heywood’s play not only a masterpiece of early modern domestic tragedy, but also a precursor of twentieth-century poetic naturalism.

Director Brent Griffin
Falconer, Sheriff, Keeper Eric Brooks
John Frankford Thom Gillott
Sir Francis Acton Brent Griffin
Nicholas Joe Kelly
Anne Frankford Sims Lamason
Wendoll Stuart McDaniel
Malby Tamil Periasamy
Jenkin Matthew Trautwein
Sir Charles Mountford Jim Wall
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Kindness Upon Kindness
by playgoer
Friday, September 28, 2018
Thomas Heywood’s "A Woman Killed with Kindness" is his most renowned work. Resurgens Theatre Company is presenting it at the Shakespeare Tavern in "original practice" (which in effect means that a fairly even wash of lighting illuminates both stage and audience, with no special effects). Music is part of the proceedings, as composed and played by Matthew Trautwein on lute, with singing by the women of the cast and a nice opening dance choreographed by Sims Lamason and performed by her and most of the men as her partners, one by one.

At the wedding celebration of John Frankford (Thom Gillott) to Anne (Sims Lamason), Anne’s brother Sir Francis Acton (Brent Griffin) makes a wager with Sir Charles Mountford (Jim Wall) about whose hawks and dogs do a better job of hunting. The wager leads to an argument and then to a duel challenge. In the duel, Acton’s falconer (Eric Brooks) is accidentally killed. Mountford is arrested, and Acton does all he can to bankrupt him before he’s released from jail. Even after that, he plans to ruin Mountford, with the assistance of his friend Malby (Tamil Periasamy). But when Acton sees Mountford’s sister Susan (Caitlyn Trautwein), he falls madly in love with her and offers to marry her and in return kindly restore her brother to his former position.

Meanwhile, Frankford’s friend Wendoll (Stuart McDaniel) has fallen on hard times and Frankford offers to let him stay at his place. Servant Nicholas (Joseph Kelly) doesn’t trust Wendoll, and his suspicions bear fruit when Wendoll declares his love for Anne and uses his silken words to entice her into adultery. When Frankford discovers them in bed, he does not kill them outright; instead, he runs Wendoll off and in his kindness banishes Anne to another of his properties, never to see her again.

So who is the woman killed with kindness? Anne, who starves herself to death at being abandoned by her husband (although he comes to her on her deathbed)? Or Susan, who is unwillingly married to Acton in response to his kind offer to call off his vendetta on her brother? Director Brent Griffin inserts a little ambiguity.

The play has been condensed to less than two hours by Mr. Griffin, and it flows pretty well, despite a few line stumbles. Mr. Gillott impresses as John Frankford, and Sims Lamason is as charismatic as ever, with Caitlyn Trautwein nearly her equal in terms of onstage charm. Brent Griffon has a strong stage presence, as does Tamil Periasamy. Eric Brooks performs his multiple roles with a fair amount of facility, and Joseph Kelly and Matthew Trautwein make strong impressions as the servants. Stuart McDaniel starts out a bit tentative, but gains confidence and intensity as the play goes on. Jim Wall does well, although his diction doesn’t seem to be quite the equal of others in the cast.

Catherine Thomas’ costumes make the production lovely to look at, and the usually empty stage is filled with a table and chairs for a card-playing scene and with a portable bed for the final scene, adding to the visual appeal. This is not a sumptuous production by any means, but it’s as good looking as anything the Shakespeare Tavern presents. The acting may not be as assured, and the text is less poetic than Shakespeare’s, but "A Woman Killed with Kindness" is a welcome addition to the Shakespeare Tavern stage. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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