Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre presents
THE LADY'S NOT FOR BURNING
At No Exit Café, 6970 N. Glenwood
Written by Christopher Fry
Directed by Fred Anzevino
Thru October 31st
Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes includes a fifteen minute intermission
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
A convent drop-out, a drunken soldier, and an accused witch walk into the Mayor's office. It's not the beginning of a joke but it does have some funny moments. Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, in association with Michael James, presents THE LADY'S NOT FOR BURNING. An obscure farce penned by Playwright Christopher Fry post WWII and set in medieval times. A bride of Christ wants to marry the mayor's nephew. A military man wants to be executed to end his despair. A woman wants to live and avoid being burned at the stake. A guy wants his brother's fiancé. A priest wants to be a musician. The mayor wants none of it especially sentencing a man to hang and pardoning a woman from burning. It's the familiar angst of trying to get the authorities to act logically. At the heart of the story is a match-up between a man struggling to die vs a lady struggling to live. Despite their declarations and evidence building their cases, the Mayor continues to proceed against their wishes. Playwright Christopher Fry has chosen to tell the political comedy in verse style. Despite the absence of the band in the cabaret setting, THE LADY'S NOT FOR BURNING gets a little sing-songy and is begging for a dance number.
With longer expositions burdening the primary characters, the stand-out comic moments belong to the supporting cast. Susan Fay (mother) delivers wit as a frosty zinger, 'don't expect me to be Christian in two different directions.' Put a martini in her hand and it's Lucille Bluth from "Arrested Development" complaining about her sons. Drew Longo (priest/Matthew Skipps) is hilarious in dual roles. As a man of the cloth, he's uninterested in his priestly duties, 'it's all Greek to me and I know Greek.' Later, he plays a drunk so convincingly he causes alarm for his stumbling safety. Another smaller role that doesn't get bogged down in verbiage is delivered with poker-face precision by Andrew J. Pond (Tappercoom) with comments like 'I know tears. My wife has them.' The ensemble trudges through the material and are admirably rewarded on sporadic occasions with a chuckle or two. As a lead, Layne Manzer (Thomas) does a particularly commendable job animinating long dissertations. He's brings a natural conversational style to lengthy prose. It's just his message gets lost in the many words.
Playwright Christopher Fry has something to say about the injustice of justice. His political comedy inspires hope to live each day as if it was your last. Fry, as would most politicians, could have benefit from burning a few pages of the speeches. Famous for its musical extravaganzas, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre tries something new with all verse, no tune. The Lady's not for Burning is not quite the traditional blaze of glory anticipated.