Playwright Kate Hamill and Director Eric Tucker make a great team. They collaborated on last season's successful adaptation of "Sense and Sensibility." This season they tackle Ms. Hamill's dramatic and comedic adaptation of William Thackeray's classic social satire of class consciousness and social climbing, "Vanity Fair." Using a troupe of seven actors to portray a multitude of characters, Ms. Hamill and Mr. Tucker bring to this production the same special sauce of playful seriousness that has distinguished their work with Bedlam. This play is a delight for the eyes and ears and soul from start to finish.
The actors have the privilege of being supported by a visionary team of creative artists. Sandra Goldmark has designed a sumptuous and adaptable set that gives the actors free rein to move around and to interact with one another in ways that are sometimes intimate and sometimes raucous. Seth Reiser's Lighting Design allows changes in scene and tone to occur with alacrity. Original music by Carmel Dean adds a fitting underscoring.
The action revolves around two very different young women. Becky Sharp (Kate Hamill) is a charity case and indentured servant at Miss Pinkerton's School for Girls. She is determined to overcome her humble origins by any means and trickery necessary. Her only friend is the kind Amelia (Joey Parsons), goodness personified who hails from a more noble lineage than Becky. They are the best of friends . . . until Becky's machinations turn vicious at Amelia's expense. Their lives are intertwined with a menagerie of relatives and love interests, played with gleeful extravagance by the remaining members of the cast - Zachary Fine, Brad Heberlee, Tom O'Keefe, Ryan Quinn, and Debargo Sanyal. Mr. Fine is especially memorable as Miss Matilda Crawley, and Mr. Sanyal is distinguishes himself in multiple roles, including Miss Briggs and George Osborne.
|Brad Herberlee, Joey Parsons, Tom O’Keefe and Kate Hamill |
"Vanity Fair" by Kate Hamill
Adapted from the novel by William Thackeray
The Pearly Theatre Company
Through May 14th
PHOTO: RUSS ROWLAND
Each character is flawed in ways that entertain and bring complexity to the shenanigans. Ms. Hamill's Becky, as written and performed by the playwright, is no heroine, but she must be admired for her grit and perseverance. Director Tucker has this cast incongruously break out into song and dance on several occasions. It is nonsensical and wonderfully appropriate for the ethos of this piece. The trio of Thackery, Hamill and Tucker collectively hold a funhouse mirror up to the hypocrisies of 19th century British society, and the reflection is not flattering.
Because of strong audience response, the run of the play has already been extended twice, with May 14 as the final announced performance. Come and enjoyed this classic reimagined.
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