|Amelia Workman, Talene Monahon|
Photo: Valerie Terranova
I came up with a few theories:
- They had never seen first-rate camp, so were easily pleased.
- They had never seen a farce before, so were easily pleased.
My friend, who didn't find the show as annoying as I did, but also didn't like it, had another theory, perhaps the best one:
- They were friends of the cast, writer, director, and/or crew.
In all fairness, I can be a bit on the crabby side when it comes to humor, though shows that have reduced me to hysterics include Noises Off, A Little Night Music, The Real Inspector Hound, Musical of Musicals, many generations of Forbidden Broadway, and most recently, Red Bull's fabulous production of The Alchemist. Perhaps the show just was not my cup of tea. And, like I said, many people had a great time.
The plot, such as it is, focuses on William Shakespeare (Michael Urie, working hard) during the great plague. He is stuck inside a small apartment with a creepy member of his theatre troupe whom he happily mistreats and insults, much to the amusement of the audience. A "cunning woman" by the name of Jane Anger (Amelia Workman, also working hard) appears, having climbed up a drain pipe to avoid the barricaded door to the building. Jane is a woman with many pasts who is trying to get her writing published. Shakespeare cannot comprehend a woman writing, but Jane tries to get him to support her work, as the name "Shakespeare" would of course open many doors. Then Anne Hathaway appears, also via the drainpipe. She is angry at Shakespeare due to his long neglect of her and the family; he didn't even go home when their son Hamnet died.
Author Talene Monahon has some interesting things to say about originality, feminism, and creativity, and under the noise she seems to be aiming for meaning. I wish that she had been more choosy with her jokes, replacing the many subpar specimens with more substance. (Monahon provided the best performance of the evening, with her silly yet human Anne Hathaway.)
I sometimes envy reviewers and critics who consider their own opinions to be the correct opinions. It might be fun to have that level of confidence, but it would be pointless (and pompous). Everyone's feelings about the arts, and particularly about theatre, are affected by our personalities, our frames of reference, our moods, the people sitting next to us, and our dinners. What we love Saturday we might hate Monday, and vice versa.
So I'll end on this. I believe very strongly that JANE ANGER or The Lamentable Comedie of JANE ANGER, that Cunning Woman, and also of Willy Shakefpeare and his Peasant Companion, Francis, Yes and Also of Anne Hathaway (also a Woman) Who Tried Very Hard was bad. But I might be wrong.