Sex, lies, betrayal, and mistaken identities.
Stony Brook’s new theatrical production, a contemporary update of Aphra Behn’s The Rover, is enchanting, yet often perplexing. Directed by Paul Kassel, The Rover adapts a17th century storyline, which takes place at a carnival in Italy, toa 21st century setting during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
The Rover is, at times, very confusing. The subplots keep the audience guessing, and give the play many dimensions. By the end of the performance, however, these seemingly separate stories finally fit together. Most of the main action is centered on Willmore, a sweet-talking Merchant Marine (the Rover) played by SBU junior Jonathan Edwards. Edwards gives a stunning performance, cleverly portraying Wilmore’s facetious and witty character.
Much of the fast-paced plot progresses with the use of masksand mistaken identities, often leaving the audience to wonder, ‘What’s going on?’ This was playwright Aphra Behn’s intent, however. The Rover illustrates the complexities of love and sex, deceit and betrayal, through the use of disguise. It is a commentary on the nature of human beings and the way we go about pursuing relationships.
Kassel did an impressive job of preserving the essence of The Rover while pandering to a collegeaudience. Students can sympathize with the plight of the actors. Hellena, a Catholic schoolgirl expected by her family to commit to a convent as a nun, breaks free of the bonds and seeks out a lover, Willmore, only to find that he is a dishonest, cheating ladies man. Rather than falling victim to jealousy and bitterness, she seeks to teach him a lesson through a match of wits.
A number of other plots run alongside, including a traumatized Frat Boy (who seems to really like the word ‘dude’) whose clothes and money are stolen by a prostitute, and a love-struck young woman named Florinda who wants to break free of the marriage expectations placed upon her. There is plenty of action and swordplay, as Florinda’s lover battles with her brother for her hand in marriage
While saturated with storyline, The Rover also does a respectable job of amusing the audience through its sheer comedic value. Packed with insinuations and humorous lines, The Rover is as funny as it is long: two and ahalf hours of theatre. Fortunately, the time passes quickly. During intermission, the director even gave away a gift certificate to the Curry Club toa randomly selected couple who was on a date. The Rover is an entertaining production, well worth the price of admission.