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Arden of Faversham

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Cara Ricketts, Thomas Jay Ryan, and Tony Roach in Arden of Faversham. Photo: Carol Rosegg

 

Arden of Faversham

By Lydia Keidel

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The Red Bull Theater presents a bloody, dark, comic Elizabethan noir thriller. Arden of Faversham is playing for a limited run (ending April 1st) at the Lucille Lortel Theater.

Itís a multi-layered, madcap story which sounds too bizarre to be real except that itís reminiscent of every episode of 20/20. The plot unravels much as the recent Murdaugh trial did, each day revealing another related murder and more possible motivations for homicide. As the adage goes, "The Truth is Stranger than Fiction.Ē In fact, the story behind this comic drama is taken very closely from real events.

On Valentineís Day 1551, Arden, formerly the Mayor of Faversham and the Kingís newly appointed controller of imports and acquisitions, was murdered. The notorious details of the murder, and the subsequent trials, were written about in the local chronicle. However, the play was first printed over 40 years later (1592). There is much debate over who wrote the play and that remains part of its mystery.

As Arden of Faversham opens, we meet Alice, Ardenís wife (Cara Ricketts). Alice has plenty of motive to kill her husband, both for his riches plus she has a lover, Mosby (Tony Roach) who is very much beneath her in social status. The two of them plot to murder Arden, in a wonderful performance by Thomas Jay Ryan, who brings his years both on and off-Broadway to this central character.A group of people on a stage

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Tony Roach, Thomas Jay Ryan, and Cara Ricketts in Arden of Faversham. Photo: Carol Rosegg

 

Subplots, mishaps, twists and turns create a fast moving, often surprising telling of this true crime story. Arden of Faversham is not sprinkled but splashed with dark humor. A few scenes were like Three Stooges skits. The comic relief was obviously very much appreciated by the audience who laughed loudly through much of the performance. Exceptional in the supporting cast is Zachary Fine as Michael, who went over the top with his physical humor. A picture containing person, outdoor, person, standing

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Thomas Ryan and Zachary Fine in Arden of Faversham. Photo: Carol Rosegg

The playís language, in Shakespeare-style English verse, which couldíve been an issue, was made easy to comprehend and flowed naturally, giving credit to both good writing and excellent delivery; the actorsí articulation and intonation were perfect. It was as natural as reading subtitles which after the first sentence isnít noticeable.

Lots of intimacy in the Lucille Lortel on Christopher Street, a small theater. But with a small theater comes a small stage adding to the challenge of set changes. Some scenery stayed on stage throughout the play - addition or subtraction of a piece created different settings, with the aid of staging (Directed by Jesse Berger) and lighting (Reza Behjat) The transitions were smooth and unobtrusive. The original music by Greg Pliska was used subtly but quite effectively as it helped change the tone for each scene.

 

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Joshua David Robinson, Tony Roach, Emma Geer, and Cara Ricketts. Photo: Carol Rosegg

 

Arden of Faversham is exciting and moves quickly. Itís well written, staged, and acted. You could watch a docu-drama or true crime magazine series on television but Arden of Faversham offers all that and the joy of live entertainment.

 

Arden of Faversham

 

At the Lucille Lortel Theater, 141 Christopher St.

Through April 1

Monday-Friday and Saturday at 7:30 PM (Masks Required Monday)

Saturday at 2:30 PM (Masks Required)

Tickets $77-112

https://www.redbulltheater.com/arden