- OTHER MEDIA
- SEAN OWENS' HER MAJESTY: ROYAL FARCE
AT THE EXIT HEADS FOR NY FRIGID FESTIVAL
By Linda Ayres-Frederick, San Francisco Bay Times
- Backstage shenanigans abound in Sean Owens' Her Majesty. Placed
in the dressing room and behind screens and curtains over the course of
the final acts of Shakespeare's Hamlet, Christina Augello (EXIT
Artistic Director) plays the actor playing Queen Gertrude, a nosy gossip
columnist nicknamed Yoohoo and the Queen of Luxembourg or some such country,
with author Sean Owens playing multiple roles of her queen dresser, her
husband as the actor playing Hamlet, and the company stage manager, as
well as a few other offstage sundry voices.
- If this sounds a bit complex, just imagine what it is like for the
two actors quick-changing at breakneck speed, nearly crashing into themselves,
keeping their distinct personae straight until the end when all the voices
seem to collide in a meltdown and we are left with one actor and a playwright
trying to figure out what and whom they are writing about. The plot has
a distinct flavor of the best of soap opera dirt: an illicit affair somewhere
between one of the queens, or is it the diva playing Gertrude when she
was young and playing Ophelia with the King of Luxembourg, producing an
illicit offspring that eventually grew up to be a shy stage manager and
inheritor of a country in political straits?
- Each character is initially clearly differentiated by voice, physicality
and gesture, aided by Director Kathryn Wood's sumptuous costumes -- they
are queens after all -- that are well-designed for the quick changes.
Although some of the oldest theatrical tricks in the book are used, e.g.
mistaken identities caused by Yoohoo's nearsightedness, whose glasses have
fallen off, or by an actor turning upstage hidden only by another character's
snatched costume, they are done with such fun and conviction that the audience
buys it. Owens even plays on the impossibility of everyone being on stage
at once as requested by the actor playing Gertrude in an effort to get
to the bottom of one of the many fun-filled mysteries. In this flurry of
people, places and plots, Owens manages to raise the poignant plight of
aging actresses and the lack of roles available to them. Thank you, Sean!
Eventually the farce gives way to the general folly of theatre as the two
actors break the fourth wall one more time to take their final bows before
"going off to get something to eat."
- If you happen to have missed one of the four performances at the EXIT
Theatre in San Francisco of this 50 minute royal farce, you can catch it
on the East Coast at the New York City FRIGID Festival between February
27 and March 9 at The Red Room, 85 East 4th Street, New York.