By Edward Kliszus
Announcing the entertaining, acclaimed Jacobean Feminist Revenge JANE ANGER, or The Lamentable Comedie of JANE ANGER, or that Cunning Woman, and also of Willy Shakespeare and his Peasant Companion, Francis, Yes and Also of Anne Hathaway (also a Woman) Who Tried Very Hard.
Time of the Plague and Working from Home
We are in the time of the great plague in the late 17th century. William Shakespeare is working from home and focused on completing some of his most poetic, introspective, and grand works borne of afflatus. The street exit door is sealed and marked with an X by city officials to warn people that someone in the building has died from the plague. The only way into Shakespeare’s apartment is to climb up a drainpipe and enter through the window. The bard is about to experience a series of importunate visitors.
The image of Shakespeare as the pensive, serious, phlegmatic British cognoscenti laboring over his verse is a historical verisimilitude in the imagination of gifted actor, raconteur, and playwright Talene Monahon. Her Wille Shakespeare (Michael Urie) is more a product akin to Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, but rather than slogging through tragedy, we revel in his vanity and self-absorbed purveying of fatuous flair, gallimaufry, insipid prose, and acerbic wit.
The Naughty Bard
Monahon’s Shakespeare is a lovable chauvinist and unabashed roué who dodges recriminations from his self-deprecating wife, Ann Hathaway (Talene Monahon), and the rapier and snack-carrying mischievous Jane Anger (Amelia Workman). Anger will do almost anything to obtain Shakespeare’s signature on her written work for acceptance by a publisher but can do much with a pastry, thanks to Willie’s narcissism. The antics of Willie’s sycophant, Micawber sidekick, and wannabe epigone Francis (Ryan Spahn) amplify the comedic energy and cadence as he seems incognizant of Jane’s plot or much else.
Jane Anger is hilariously funny. Witticisms, cleverness, plays on words, malapropisms, and sparkling non sequitur rants abound, along with a dash of the spirit of Monte Python and Mel Brooks, a touch of Abbott and Costello, and the cast’s superb timing that make it work. Low-brow humor, double entendre, and inferences to the bard’s plagiarism and petty jealousy of contemporaries are deliciously delightful. Anachronistic humor gently reminded us that we live in the twenty-first century. The plague of 1665 seems to have been Covid 3, and the jokes flew seamlessly from the bard’s day to today.
This is, after all, about a cunning woman, two in fact, who may have a way to give Willie his comeuppance. Their guile subtlety drives the plot as it evolves to frenetic humorous heights. You’ll need to see the play to discover Shakespeare’s denouement, but although I felt a little sorry for the guy, I laughed along with the audience until the end.
This live-streamed work was beautifully filmed and recorded. The music fit perfectly in support of the scenes and energy.
Jane Anger Cast
Jane Anger Creative
Playwright: Talene Monahon
Set Design: Joey Mendoza
Costume Design: Andrea Hood
Light Design: Nic Vincent
Original Music/Sound Design: Lindsay Jones
SFX Design: Matt Frew
Fight Choreographer: Sean Michael Chin
Casting Director: Claire Yenson
Jane Anger Team
Production Stage Manager Michal V. Mendelson
Assistant Stage Manager: Brant Sennett
Producer: Jennifer Campos
Associate Producer: Pat Addiss
Managing Director: Liz Flemming
Press Rep: Spin Cycle PR
Runtime is about 80 minutes. No intermission.
JANE ANGER or The Lamentable Comedie of JANE ANGER, That Cunning Woman, and also of Willy Shakespeare and his Peasant Companion, Francis, Yes and Also of Anne Hathaway (also a Woman) Who Tried Very Hard streams June 14 – 26, Tuesday – Friday at 7 pm, Saturday & Sunday at 5 pm & 7 pm. Tickets are $15.50 for a single view or $22.50 for a 48-hour rental, available at www.JaneAngerPlay.com.
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