note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Beverly Creasey
Like Sr. Mary Ignatius, Miss Margarida explains it all to you and like the toxic nun, Miss Margarida does it her way. Roberto Athayde’s political allegory, MISS MARGARIDA’S WAY, debuted in 1973 in his native Brazil and was promptly banned for its obvious governmental metaphor. You may be able to escape catechism lessons with Sr. Mary but you’re not getting out of Miss Margarida’s class. The audience is seated in rows of old fashioned desk/chairs in the Theatre On Fire version of the piece (playing through May 23rd at the Charlestown Working Theatre) and it won’t help to sit in the back.
Miss Margarida (a frightening Kelly Rauch) is your worst nightmare. She patrols the aisles, bullying her charges (like poor Michael Avellar), screeching obscenities at everyone. You are intellectually aware of the abusive metaphor at work, but you feel it personally, painfully, just like you did in school. The play has the curious power (in director Darren Evans’ visceral production) to transport you right back to those unpleasant days when you were at the mercy of an especially nasty teacher. I remember a psycho who punished “bad” boys in fifth grade by dressing them in women’s clothes and parading them around the class. Then there was Miss Pearl, whose tongue lashings in high school were worse than her ruler if you couldn’t identify a Shakespeare quote. (They called this a first class education in the ‘50s and ‘60s!)
Just when I thought Miss Margarida had no redeeming qualities, she declared that she is a vegetarian because animals are as important as humans---so there I was, agreeing with a despicable dictator. Hmmm. Evans and company know how to make a point. I can’t say it was fun sitting in Miss Margarida’s class but it sure made me thinkP>