No Bull With Raging Robert.

Theater Review.

In the genre of “One Man, Two Guvnors”, “Noises Off” and “The Play That Goes Wrong”, “The Alchemist” is too a funny farce. Based on Ben Jonson’s brilliant writing, Jeffrey Hatcher has adapted a masterpiece of sheer comedy. Directed by Jesse Berger, the play has a brilliant cast starting with Reg Rogers( Neville in The Blacklist).

The plays premise is that the plague is upon England and the master of the house has fled. Face (Manoel Felciano) is the masters butler along with Subtle (Rogers) and Dol (Jennifer Sanchez) take advantage of people’s gullibility; whether they own a Tabaco shop, or are gamblers, the trio have various ways of scheming and that is precisely where ground zero is for all the fun.

Whenever farce is concerned on stage, the gags are as important as the puns in the writing and here is where “The Alchemist” shines. From the lead character’s down to its supporting cast, this play keeps the audience in stiches throughout. Like “The Play That Goes Wrong” (also at World Stages), the unbelievable becomes to life. Hatcher gives us various people in the shows plot of course but when Surly (Louis Mustillo)shows up from Brooklyn, a street smart no non sense person, he is dubious of the intensions that the three con artists are for real. Add a randy rich man and a hostile, angry boy and you have the receipt for hilarity in the making.

What is a great farce without all the trappings of a wacky set? The trap doors, the walls that move? Alexis Distler created a beauty with “Alchemist” When the farce gets turned up a notch or three, Distler’s set serves up the comedy in high gear! Will the suckers ever find gold? Judging from the smokey basement throughout one thinks not!

Tilly Grimes costumes are too a big part of this comedy. Grimes, like her “The Government Inspector” captures the period in a ridiculous manner… part of a great farce is of course the outrageous costumes and Grimes does not disappoint. The religious maniac, Ananais (Stephan DeRosa), Sir Epicure Mammon (Jacob Trent) are made to look utterly ridiculous in their duds which helps the lines that they spew.

Ben Jonson was one of the “big three” writers in the Elizabethan Era… He, Marlowe and of course, Shakespeare. Jonson was known as a poet, playwright and actor. He had an elite education as well as a bad temper; known to have killed someone during a duel, Jonson was elegant as well as gritty. Jonson would go on to write a true classic called “Valpone”. “The Alchemist” would later receive the same notoriety but at a much later date… it was not initially thought by the public to be a great work of art. It was only in later years that this play received the recognition that it deserved.

The Red Bull Theater was founded in 2003 with its first production of Shakespeare’s “Pericles”. The Theater company does annual Revelation Readings as well as its Short Play Festival.

The Red Bull regularly produces a variety of classical work including 21 Off-Broadway productions and has won over 200 Obie Award-winning Revelation Readings. “The Alchemist” is just another great production put on by Red Bull Theater. The show can be seen at The New World Stages till the end of December. It features a great cast, great direction and a wonderful set. For anyone who likes farce, this is a show for you. Don’t miss “The Alchemist”.

Please check out my review of “Once Upon A Time In America” which will be featured along with “Scarface” in Nimbus Magazine next month. I take direct aim at “Once Upon A Time In America” and give my opinion how this movie could have been made better.

Check out my reviews on Vocal Media. I review plays, concerts and movies. Vocal Media makes you write 600 words or more which I do not understand why.

Words: 656




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