The Windy City is full of meat
As you know, I am not big on reviews, so you should disregard the remainder of this entry.
I recently found myself in what is called a “theatre complex”, watching an adaptation of Molière’s Les Femmes savantes by Freyda Thomas, who is apparently famous for playing Alenis Grem on Deep Space Nine.
Called The Learned Ladies, this translation to English manages to approximate some of the rhyme of the original, thereby making it unquestionably better than DS9.
Also noteworthy is the all-female cast, cobbled together from two all-female theater groups. Elizabeth Neptune plays Chrysale, occasionally channeling the spirit of Jackie Gleason or bringing adorable ardor to such epic lines as “Tea!” I won’t say anything about her eyes, but I will say something about her slippers.
Sara Montgomery, as Bélise, is delightfully crazy in her singing, dancing, costume changes, and other antics, which serve to transform this otherwise-completely-serious play into a comedy. I definitely won’t say anything about her shoes.
Madeleine Maby begins playing Philaminte well before the show starts. Spoiler alert: she sits on the stage, pretending to look through a telescope and make notes from before the house opens until right before the start of the first scene. I still feel exhausted by the thought of having to do that myself.
L’Épine is portrayed by Alyssa Lott, who also plays three minor roles. Her mastery of physical comedy is not wasted on this production.
Marta Kuersten plays Clitandre opposite Sarah Brill’s Henriette. While Marta’s performance was quite good, she looks much better as a woman. I will not be saying this about everyone.
Katie Honaker delivers visceral smarm and sleaze as Trissotin. Even her hairstyle is somehow evocative of contempt.
Susan Finch plays Vadius and Le notaire. Susan was definitely most convincing as a man. Despite mutterings to the contrary, some suspension of disbelief was necessary for the other male roles, but not for Vadius, oh no.
Finishing out the list we have Janna Emig as Martine, Francesca Day as Armande, and Kathryn Alexander as Ariste, with good performances, particularly in the second half.
Even though it didn’t have Coppertop from Strangers With Candy and a boy-band song-and-dance cover of To Be with You by Mr. Big, I recommend this play.