Kristina Nikols of the Thespian Thoughts reviews both casts of “The Malcontent” at the Deaf West Theatre
ENTERTAINING, COMPREHENSIBLE, AND FUNNY…ANTAEUS, LA’S CLASSICAL THEATER ENSEMBLE, SUCCESSFULLY BRINGS TO LIFE JOHN MARSTON’S RARELY PERFORMED CLASSIC PLAY “THE MALCONTENT.”
“The Malcontent” now playing at the Deaf West Theatre in North Hollywood, California, proves to be a worthwhile viewing pleasure. Written by John Marston (1576-1634) in 1603, “The Malcontent,” is a tragicomedy revenge play rife with lies, twists, deceit, as well as some raunchy humor. The plot: Duke Altofront (The Malcontent), returns to Genoa in disguise to seek reprisal on the fiendish Mendoza for his banishment and to reclaim his dukedom. The play reveals the duplicity and immorality involved in politics; some speculate that Marston was commenting on the court of James I.
The ensemble is split in two casts: the Cuckolds (a man whose wife is cheating on him) and the Wittols (a man who doesn’t mind that his wife is cheating on him). These casts perform on Saturday and Sunday’s and randomly combine as the Beccos (another term for a cuckold) for Thursday and Friday nights.
The Cuckolds captured the comedy, whereas the Wittols leaned toward tragedy. I saw the Cuckolds first, and relished every second of the fast-paced, high-energy, comedy filled first act; the second act, featuring more of the supporting cast, ran smoother for the Wittols. Bo Foxworth and JD Cullum (Altofront) have their own unique strengths–both are superb; the former humorous, and the latter more embittered. From the Cuckolds, Bo Foxworth displays many layers, nuances, and great comedic timing, and Ramon De Ocampo (Mendoza) deliciously seduces the audience of women and enthralls with his malicious agenda and energetic manipulations–he is captivating throughout the play. The Wittols JD Cullum masters the language and exquisitely reveals his characters every thought of anger, disgust, and love, and Adrian LaTourelle presents a darker, dangerous Mendoza.
The flow of the show varies between casts, but the entire ensemble has a strong command of the language. Elizabeth Swain’s talented direction makes intentions and jokes clear, and wisely decides to break down of the fourth wall and incorporate audience members in the fun.
The set design by Tom Buderwitz is simple, attractive, and true to Jacobean theater. The circular sun tiled floor design enhances the face-off between Mendoza and Altofront as they pace round and round each other, and creates a nice frame when Mendoza is encircled by his captors. The dance numbers choreographed by Heather Allyn, costuming by A. Jeffrey Schoenberg, and sound design by Peter Bayne were all well-done and enhance this excursion to the 17th century.
To learn more about the Antaeus Company and view additional details about The Malcontent, please see their website: WWW.ANTAEUS.ORG
BY John Marston
Adapted and Directed by Elizabeth Swain
Ramon De Ocampo*
*Actors Equity Member
Set Design: Tom Buderwitz
Costume Design: A. Jeffrey Schoenberg
Lighting Design: Elizabeth Harper
Sound Design: Peter Bayne
Properties Design: Heather Ho
Stage Manager: Ritchard Druther*
Dramaturg: Christopher Breyer
Choreographer: Heather Allyn
MAY 5 – JUNE 19, 2011
Thursdays, Fridays, & Saturdays: 8 p.m.
Sundays: 2:30 p.m.
THE ANTAEUS COMPANY @ Deaf West Theatre
5112 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
(one block south of Magnolia; free parking available in the uncovered Citibank lot on Lankershim Blvd.)
Approximately 2 1/2 hours, including a 10-minute intermission
Thursdays & Fridays: $30
Saturdays & Sundays: $34
And, remember, all the world’s a stage!
Thespian Thoughts is a theatre review show on Actors Entertainment, a site on the Actors Podcast Network, a Pepper Jay Production.