Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sir Patient Fancy

Sir Patient Fancy is a humorous yet serious look at the effect money--or lack of money!--has on romantic relationships. Written in 1678 by Aphra Behn, England's first female professional playwright, Sir Patient Fancy uses farce to make serious points--points that are, unfortunately, still relevant today.

Cast of the Queen's Company production of Sir Patient Fancy
Photo: Bob Pileggi
The Queen's Company uses all-female casts to give women more opportunity to do the classics. This is carried out straightforwardly; the women play men without compromising the characters or play or winking at the audience. (They do occasionally compromise the play in other ways, however, as in the unnecessary and flat-out dumb use of a cell phone in the production.)

The plot line of Sir Patient Fancy is Farce 101. This person loves that person but is supposed to marry a third person. The third person loves a fourth person who loves her back but is betrothed to a fifth person. Add mistaken identities, tricks and deceit, and much frantic coming and going. It is familiar territory. But Behn mines it well, and the play is entertaining.

The Queen's Company production of Sir Patient Fancy is a mixed bag, however. On one hand, there are some excellent performances, and most of the actors are able to speak 17th-century English comfortably and clearly. On the other hand, the modern touches--in particular the lip-synched contemporary songs at the beginning and end of the show--are intrusive, annoying, and time-consuming. When a show  runs 2:40, it's important to justify every minute, but the lip-synching comes across as a cutesy in-joke, adding nothing and taking away much. Sir Patient Fancy can stand on its own, without schtick, and should be given that opportunity.

Luckily, the good outweighs the bad, and this production is a welcome opportunity to experience Behn's work.

(4th row on the aisle)

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