Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Bunbury: A Serious Play for Trivial People"

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note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Carl A. Rossi


by Tom Jacobson
directed by Barlow Adamson and John Edward O’Brien

Bunbury* … Mikkel Raahede
Rosaline**; Gwendolyn*; Masha*** … Becca A. Lewis
Hartley; Romeo**; Vladimir**** … Jonathan Michael Anderson
Lady Bracknell*; Olga***; Martha*****; Older Cecily* … Shelly Brown
Juliet**; Cecily*; Irena***; Blanche****** … Sasha Castroverde
Algernon*; Allan******; Jim***** … Nathaniel Gundy
Jack*; Peacock; Estragon**** … Marc Harpin
Friar**; Lawyer*******; George*****; Older Algernon* … Forrest Walker

* a character in Oscar Wilde’s THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
** a character in William Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET
*** a character in Anton Chekhov’s THE THREE SISTERS
**** a character in Samuel Beckett’s WAITING FOR GODOT
***** a character in Edward Albee’s WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?
****** a character in Tennessee Williams’ A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
******* the narrator of Edgar Alan Poe’s “The Raven”

The Factory Theatre continues to be my favorite performance space in Boston, and its exposed brick walls and inner stage continue to reinvent and adapt themselves to whatever visions may briefly dwell, there --- in this case, Mill 6 Collaborative’s production of BUNBURY by Tom Jacobson. In this Serious Play for Trivial People, the title character who had thought himself flesh-and-blood discovers that he is, and has always been, a fictional excuse created by Algernon in Oscar Wilde’s THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST as a means for the latter to explain his dalliances when not in London. Feeling himself abandoned when Algernon weds Cecily, Bunbury goes on a personal quest/vendetta into classic literature (drama, really) to prove himself. Accompanied by Fair Rosaline --- Romeo’s offstage love before he meets Juliet --- the duo alter the ending of ROMEO AND JULIET (not to Rosaline’s liking) which in turn changes the course of every unhappy ending to follow: thus, Mr. Chekhov’s Three Sisters go to Moscow, after all; Blanche DuBois does not end up in a madhouse; Godot appears before an astonished Vladimir and Estragon, and so on --- in a Pirandellian ending, Bunbury and Algernon are reunited and Rosaline finds possible happiness with another, after making sure that Romeo and Juliet are correctly dispatched. BUNBURY runs for nearly two hours sans intermission but I mentally divided it into three reactions: for the first third, I was dazzled by Mr. Jacobson’s clever-clever repartee (so good to know that some of today’s playwrights can still write dialogue that dances!); for the next third, I was amused as to where all this cleverness was going; for the final third, I had become as restless as an adult trapped by a child with a Rubik’s Cube: by then, Mr. Jacobson had worn me down, especially when asking me to now take his characters, seriously --- and for a comedy, the evening’s audience was decidely quiet (it helps to have a passing acquaintance with the asterisked plays, above, in order to fathom much of the goings-on).

That said, Barlow Adamson and John Edward O’Brien have polished BUNBURY’s never-ending surface to a high gleam and they are blessed with a clockwork cast who are fleet of foot and nimble of tongue, led by Mikkel Raahede --- tall, relaxed, and pleasantly attractive --- in the title role. Brett Bundock’s simple, literary setting provides its own commentary: on either side of the wee proscenium rises a stack of books, top-heavy with words and liable to crash at any moment. Fortunately, they do not, though Mr. Jacobson’s play comes perilously close.

"Bunbury: A Serious Play for Trivial People" (1 - 17 May)
The Factory Theatre, 791 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 240-6317

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide