Reviewed by Becca Kidwell
(Boston, MA) A new age is dawning in the 1660’s. Women are allowed to act. Strict Puritan regulations have been lifted. What’s a girl to do? Aphra Behn, one of the first professional playwrights that was female, has some answers with the help of modern day playwright Liz Duffy Adams. Lyric Stage brings a delightful evening of ‘girl power’ to the stage in this play of Restoration, modern, and post-modern ideals.
All of the main characters in Or, are based on their historical counterparts. Aphra Behn, known for her famous play The Rover, wants to retire from her previous career as a spy and become a professional playwright. Now that the Commonwealth has fallen and Charles II is on the throne, her dream can become a reality–if her ex-lover William Scott does not muck up her plans.
This door-slamming farce is adeptly executed by only three actors: Stacy Fischer, Hannah Husband, and Ro’ee Levi. Stacy Fischer continues to tackle strong feminine roles with vigor and sensuality (see also Hysteria…). As Aphra Behn, Fischer skillfully holds all of the people in her world in one hand while she writes with the other. Through the course of the play, Aphra finds that she has little to hide when love is free and life is hopeful.
Hannah Husband juggles three characters as Nell Gwynne, Maria, and Lady Davenport. Between Daniel Gidron’s skillful staging and Hannah Husband’s subtle metamorphoses, it is often necessary to remind oneself of that fact. Emily Woods Hogue finishes the affect with her dashing disguises. With this combination, Husband slips seamlessly from character to character without giving much away.
Ro’ee Lee has the daunting task of being the men who are involved with these ladies. Without being weak, Lee manages to not overpower the women and allow them to always be in control. Lee’s acquiescence as Charles II and Will Scott do not preclude him from maintaining a virile appearance and and manner.
While Or, is based in the Restoration period, it clearly has parallels to the twentieth and twenty-first century. The story of free love and a desire for change amongst turmoil can easily be translated into ideals of the 1960’s or the past four years. Lyric Stage Company presents a timeless farce about change and pleasure and the hope that they can remain intermingled throughout the ages.