Directed by Fred Anzevino
Produced by Theo ubique Cabaret Theatre
At No Exit Cafe, Chicago
This comedy in verse is magnificently performed by a most articulate cast!
Director Fred Anzevino has a passion for Christopher Fry’s 1948 play, The Lady’s Not For Burning and it shows in his casting and his blocking. This is one of the clearest and best enunciated plays spoken in verse you’ll ever encounter. Fry’s romantic comedy was written in 1948 reflecting “exhaustion & despair” from World War II. Fry sure demonstrates his command of verse that reminds me of Shakespeare’s pastoral comedies.
This 2 and a half hour comedy is set in the Middle Ages and plays almost like a musical due to the exquisitely complex poetic verse-dialogue that “sings” from the lips of each player. The humor, the irony, the wit, and the angst each character exudes captures us and holds us throughout. Teresa Hamm’s period-perfect costumes enhance the look and atmosphere. The cast understands and respects the cleverness of Fry’s work. You’d be hard pressed to witness a finer ensemble easily navigating the difficult text.
Burning is a romantic comedy that finds a disillusioned soldier strongly desiring to be hanged. Layne Manzer most effectively plays Thomas Mendip the lad determined to swing from a rope. Jenny Lamb is the accused witch, Jennet Jourdemayne, who only wants to live. The town is in a state of mass hysteria over rumors of witchcraft. An inept Mayor, played deliciously by J. Preddie Predmore tries to deal with the crisis.
Peopled by a group of outrageous comic characters including the Devize family and a wacky Chaplain (Drew Longo), Burning is a stylized comic adventure filled with wit, sarcastic dialogue and much social commentary that plays out on several levels: as a funny romp and as a reflection on the world’s exhaustion and despair. The cast is superb and the staging flows nicely producing an engaging evening of stylistic theatre. Fry’s exquisite language is in good hands with this cast. Shakespeare lovers and those who enjoy sophisticated drollery will enjoy The Lady’s Not For Burning.
At No Exit Cafe, 6070 N. glenwood, Chicago, IL, call 773-347-1109, www.theoubique.com, tickets $25, show/dinner packages for $45, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 7 pm, dinners start one hour earlier, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission.