Kudos to the Tufts Department of Drama and Dance for mounting the highly entertaining, if unusual play OR, by Liz Duffy Adams, now at the Aidekman Arts Center, 40 Talbot Ave., Medford until April 12. Senior Lecturer and Director Sheriden Thomas (left) introduces the play OR, through a quote from Virginia Woolf about Aphra Behn, “a woman forced to earn her living by her wits.” In the 17th century, Behn was one of the first-ever women playwrights, eventually producing 19 plays.
In this play, the writer Aphra Behn almost never voluntarily moves away from her desk and pen. She wants to write, but her many lovers – past, present, and future – take turns interrupting her. She goes with the person most likely to help her get her work sold. Each one gets a passionate kiss in turn – kings and drunks, men and women.
Sheriden Thomas’s productions are known for their stylish presentation, and OR, is no exception. The poster is appealing, the costumes by Linda Ross Girard are lavishly decorative, and the opening night after-party spread is generous. But the play’s dialogue is perhaps the most embellished aspect of the evening.
Delivered entirely in verse at a clip, the audience must at first lean forward and concentrate until they acclimate to the cadence. In this they are helped by Kira Patterson (left), a junior who plays the leading role. She is onstage throughout the 90 minute play – no intermission – never faltering, always investing the copious poetry with a charm and authenticity that promises a brilliant future on the stage.
Originally from Milwaukee, Patterson says she was lucky to join the First State Children’s Theater at age four, and she hasn’t stopped acting since. Patterson decided on Tufts after sitting in on a student production while there on tour. “They took an academic approach in their discussions and I loved the combination of the art and the thought,” she says. The rest of the cast are also terrific, not the least freshman Blaire Nodelman as Maria, Aphra’s confident, if rebellious, maid.
In explaining her choice to mount this piece of work, Sheridan explains, “This play is a feminist reassurance. Women are not identifying as feminists anymore, but the young women in this cast – and the young men, too – get it. Feminism is alive and well at Tufts.”
Perhaps because it is a theatre-rich town, the smaller theatres in greater Boston get insufficient attention. Whether it’s a regional, community, or university theatre, innovation, experimentation, and excellence are often to be found. For a very special, funny, engaging evening, go check out OR,.
Photos by me at the after-party.