June 10-July 1
It helps to know a little about the historic events surrounding the War of the Roses- a familiarity with Shakespeare’s history plays gives apt introduction to the characters’ driving the bloody feud over the English crown- but this play, written by Sarah Overman, with skillful simplicity, in prose reminiscent (thankfully unsentimentally) of language of the time, shifts the focus and stage-time in favor of toils of the “weaker” sex, shedding honest light on the power struggle behind Male-lines.
The production lent an honest portrayal in every respect; excellently written and well-acted by all, the nuanced characterizations lend a more personal conception than any by the Bard himself and the brutality of masculine war pales compared with the rich struggles of the play’s protagonist Queen Margaret (brought from France as the child bride of inept King Henry VI)and female contemporaries- ambitious confidant Elizabeth Woodville, wizened matriarch Mary of Gelderland and innocent Lady Anne Neville.
Augmenting the script, a simple mixology of set changes (beautiful in white timber and gold accents), video projection, and audio fills further the modern treatment of historic events. Though sometimes (for better or worse) reminiscent of History Channel recreations, all in all the effects lend well to the script and bolster actors. Double cast with 16 parts among 8, and sans pretentious Brit accents, the actors interweave past and present events in Margaret’s life, with memorable caricatures in Michael Keyloun’s befuddled Henry VI, Jason Kolotouros’s luxuriant Spider King, and Lisa McCormick’s obedient Lady Anne.
Good female parts are hard to come by, thank god these juicy historic characters have been salvaged from the tomes of Shakespearean lore and given the treatment they deserve and in language to match the Bard’s counterpoint male faction. A woman’s battle is armed with different weapons- alternative strategies- and it is beautiful to see this illustrated: “You are not a man,” Mary of Gelderland reminds Queen Margaret. Acting as such, she continues, “defies your necessary wisdom.” Wise words and an excellent take home message.