Compleat Female Stage Beauty

Jeffrey Hatcher’s contemporary tale, in a Restoration-period style, chronicles a stage in the life of Edward Kynaston, a devilishly handsome actor of that era who gained favor and notoriety portraying some of the Bard’s most famous female characters. The action takes place in London in early 1661 — just before King Charles II’s edict prohibiting men from playing any roles for females. Kynaston (a fine performance by Michael Traynor) is first seen rehearsing the death scene from Othello, and shortly after, as quite the toast of the town, basking in the admiration of ladies of the upper crust and of the dandy Sir Charles Sedley (Cameron Jappe). But just when life seems grand, things start to fall apart, as his formidable talents as an actor place him at odds with the theater manager (Rick Wasserman) and a pair of the King’s favored ladies, who want to grace the stage. Kynaston’s story is a compelling take on the issues of sexual identity and artistic freedom now entrenched in our own culture. Hatcher’s script is artfully conceived but glosses over its more substantive concerns. The larger problem is the absence of vigor and precision in John Perrin Flynn’s ponderous direction. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: April 26. Continues through June 15, 2008

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