By Aphra Behn
Directed by Christopher Niess
Starring Darren Escarcha-Cajipo, Giovanna Borges, Elena Scaringe-Peene
Pack in supplies, folks, this is a long and bumpy ride. It’s carnival time in Napes, and tonight’s the night for getting out and getting some action. A number of English adventurers are in town, looking for love in all the wrong places. Once the sun goes down so do most social restraints, and there are few taboos and fewer people ready to make sane decision. Florinda (Borges) and her sister Helena (Scaringe-Peene) are eager to go out in costume against their parent’s wishes. Florinda hope to meet up with her lover Colonel Belville (Brian Wiegand) and since Helena is destined for a nunnery she believes this is her last chance to have any real fun. The male action is led by Colonel Willmore (Escarcha-Cajipo) who seem ready to fall in love with anything that moves. He has a pack of alternately smart and stupid friends who promise every woman they meet love and money but really are all about getting some action on and then getting out of town for that refreshing Lenten Penance.
While the script is an unmanageable pile of seeming random events, the acting s solid and the set cleverly built to offer multiple locations quickly and flexibly. Escarcha-Cajipo is a likable rouge, as are all his companions. Christy Clark (playing Angelica Bianco) gives our male leads a professional alternative; She offers herself to anyone with 100,000 florins only to end up dealing with perennially broke Willmore. I give her points for trying. Both Borges and Scaringe-Peene project a well balanced mix of innocence and knowledge, and their fling a typical plot device of immediate action rather than a more considered courtship adults might consider.
The program notes and lobby videos point up a problem with this script: “It’s rather ‘rapey.’ “ I agree, but it’s an old show about a life lived 400 years ago when the dating relation weren’t quite the same as today. A similar argument can be made for most of the entertainment made 50 or even 30 years ago. I don’t condone the actions in the story, but the fact the story was written, survived, and made it to the 2020 stage should be an educational experience. Someone pointed out if you ignore the past you are doomed to repeat it. And while this show seemed to go on about as long as the Restoration itself did, it is good to dig out these relics of a past universe, set them up on stage and stare deep into our hearts as we watch them.