Archive for April 2012

“Or,” at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Aphra Behn when she bounds onto the stage from high in the rafters at the very opening of “Or,” is announcing that she’s a character not to be taken lightly. She’s a spy, the first female dramatist, and an amazingly modern woman, but not of our time. She lives in the 1660s in Restoration England. Charles II is on the throne; intrigue and social disorder are ever present; and the politics are even nastier than they are in the United States today.

What a time for a liberated woman in an unliberated society. Kirsten Potter brings passion, energy and verve to the role of Aphra. Basil Harris, who plays both Charles II and a somewhat nefarious antagonist, ably partners Ms. Potter. Montana von Fliss cleverly rounds out the cast in another double role, that of the famous actress Nell Gwynn and Aphra’s sharp tongued maid.

Director Allison Narver’s excellent cast cavort in Matthew Smucker’s splendid set under L.B. Morse’s fine lighting. Walls change color as moods switch, and cast members have ingenious scenery in which they can disappear and appear as the plot demands.

Disappear and appear they must because this is a farce, and like all farces, doors slam, people pop in and out, and timing has to be just right. Author Liz Duffy Adams is no Feydeau, but she’s created a farce that captures many of the qualities of Restoration Comedy. My problem with the play is that the political commentary often gets in the way of the farcical components. This slows the action down. The play tries a little too hard to fit into two genres.

Through April 22 at Seattle Repertory Theatre 155 Mercer St., Seattle in Seattle Center, (206 433-2222 or www.seattlerep.org).