BWW Reviews: SIR PATIENT FANCY - Patience Required
Aphra Behn is a Restoration playwright, one of the first women in the field. So it is fitting that The Queens Company, a troupe of all-female performers, should take on her work. Behn is known for her work The Rover, but The Queens Company have chosen to revive a lesser-known work, Sir Patient Fancy, a very funny but ultimately strange mediation on love and fidelity.
The elderly Sir Patient Fancy (Natalie Lebert) has taken for his second wife, the young and attractive Lady Fancy (Tiffany Abercrombie), who unbeknownst to him has a lover in Wittmore (Elisabeth Preston), but when they are discovered together, she must pass him off as a suitor to Sir Fancy's daughter Isabella (Sarah Joyce), who herself is in love with Lodwick (Sarah Hankins), son of Lady Knowell (Julia Campanelli), who has eyes for Sir Fancy's nephew Leander (Amy Dreisler), who is in love with Lady Knowell's daugher Lucretia (Antoinette Robinson), despite her being betrothed to old idiot Sir Credulous Easy (Virginia Beata).
For the first part of the evening, the Commedia Dell'Arte machinations of the plot are delightfully wicked and fun, with lovers being confused, Sir Credulous being taunted, and broad characters whooping it up.
After intermission it becomes clear why this particular play isn't revived as often as The Rover: the ending just doesn't make much sense to modern mores; the then-commonplace tropes being parodied just don't exist anymore, and the latter half of the play drags, despite the mostly-exemplary cast doing their best to bouy it up.
Tiffany Abercrombie steals every scene she's in as Lady Fancy; she manages to be hilariously comic and overtly sexy while still delivering a grounded and realistically felt character. Her exquisite standout performance is worth the price of admission. The other performers do truly wonderful work as well, whether playing men or women; the other standouts being Dreisler, Campanelli, Preston, Robinson, Joyce, and Hankins. The strange performance by Virginia Beata as Sir Credulous Easy seems to have been a product of direction; she takes a simple fool of a character and overplays him to such caricature that she frequently becomes unbearable.
Rebecca Patterson's direction is inconsistent, and inserts several modern song interludes which often either slow down an already long play or distract from the action on the stage. A strange choice of having a couple of the main performers double minor roles with only minor costume changes adds to some of the confusion.
The creative team includes Matthew J. Fick (a beautiful Set and Light Design), Kristina Makowski (Gorgeous Costume Design), Amy Altadona (Sound Design) and Judi Lewis Ockler (Fight Choreography).
On the whole, worth a look for the wonderful performances and the opportunity to see staged a play which might not be seen on the boards again any time soon.
Performances are Wednesdays - Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased online at http://www.QueensCompany.org or by calling 1-866-811-4111. Tickets are 2 for 1 on Wednesday nights. The running time is approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes including intermission. A post-show discussion with Ms. Patterson and the cast will follow the Sunday, March 23 performance. The Wild Project is accessible from the F train to 2nd Avenue. For info visit http://www.QueensCompany.org, follow on Twitter at @queenscompany, join the conversation at #AphraBehn and #SirPatientFancy, and Like them on Facebook at https://www.Facebook.com/pages/The-Queens-Company/219369338392.