Everyday Inferno Theatre Crompany is running a series in rep titled Punks and Provocateurs in which it presents two plays that regard misfits and social outcasts. One show is an original piece called Punk as Fuck regarding a punk rock band trying to make their mark; the other is the classic Jacobean play The Roaring Girl. On paper these two seem as odd a pairing as any, but in practice The Roaring Girl fits perfectly into the theme of social rebellion.
Originally written by renowned playwrights Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker, the comedy begins as many do: with a forbidden marriage. Sebastian Wengrave (Jacob Owen) and Mistress Fitzallard (Anna Clare Kerr) wish to marry but Sebastian's father Sir Alexander (Matt Walker) won't allow it. The young lovers then embark on a long con for his approval by convincing Sebastian's father that he instead longs for a renowned thief named Moll Cutpurse (Malloree Hill), a roguish woman who famously dresses like a man. Sir Alexander enlists one Ralph Trapdoor (Max Hunter) to find his way into Moll's service in order to spy on her. Various characters filter in and out of the setting during the many plot lines, and if you are sitting in the right place they just might attempt to interact with you.
As is typical of Jacobean comedies, the dialogue is littered with sexual humor that will surely spread a grin across even the most serious-minded audience member. The colorful costume design by Anais Koivisto causes every character to pop even before they speak a single line. The stage is bare with colored curtains acting as stage wings along the side of the small corner room theater, and the cast makes their costume changes and prop setting here, just behind the audience. One is never certain where or when a character will emerge from these curtains and ofttimes one may appear behind or beside you. Koivisto, who also directs this piece, keeps the audience thoroughly engaged in this intimate manner.
The Roaring Girl features a large cast, and even with its size many of the actors play multiple roles throughout. Even if one is not familiar with the 17th-century dialect, the cast manages to inflect enough on every word that few will be confused as to what the characters are talking about. This is especially helpful for the show's laugh-out-loud humor. There are plenty of handsome lords and beautiful ladies in the cast, and all carry themselves with the sharpest of wits. The scene stealers include Sam Ogilvie as the flamboyant gallant Jack Dapper and Max Hunter as the deluded macho spy Trapdoor. However, Malloree Hill's Moll Cutpurse is undoubtedly the star of the show, possessing a roguish sense of humor as well as an air of intimidation.
While Jacobean plays aren't everybody's thing, this reviewer feels many should make an exception and try and catch The Roaring Girl, playing in rep now with Punk as Fuck.