[NEohioPAL] Review of "Or," at Dobama Theatre

Bob Abelman via NEohioPAL neohiopal at lists.neohiopal.org
Sat Sep 5 14:16:35 PDT 2015

Dobama turns farce-filled ‘Or,’ into something more  

Bob Abelman

Cleveland Jewish News, The News Herald, The Morning Journal

Member, International Association of Theatre Critics

For a play whose title is so ambiguous, its plot points couldn’t be more ambitious.

In Liz Duffy Adams’ “Or,” which premiered Off-Broadway in 2009 and opened last Friday at Dobama Theatre, it’s the 17th century and we are introduced to Aphra Behn – poet, spy, and the first professional female playwright in London.  Recently sprung from debtors’ prison, Aphra is desperate to finish her play by morning despite constant interruptions from her new lover, the actress Nell Gwynne, her benefactor and would-be lover, King Charles II, and her ex-lover, the double-agent William Scot.

Can Aphra save Charles’ life, win William a pardon, woo Nell, and launch her career, all in one night? 

Actually, the bigger question regarding this play is can director Shannon Sindelar find the right rhythm for a 90-minute, one-act play that, as is noted in the prologue, “ricochets between a dense array of opposites.” 

“Or,” is at once historically-based (Behn wrote tragicomedies in the late-1600s, as well as light comedies and farces) and widely fictitious.  It has elements of a bedroom farce and a Restoration comedy, presents dialogue in heightened blank verse, iambic pentameter as well as rhyming couplets, and is set in the 1660s while exploring issues of feminism, sexual freedom and sexual preference best suited for the 1960s.  

Sindelar finds that rhythm.

For the rest of this review, go to www.clevelandjewishnews.com/columnists/
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