Monstrously Good

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Review: “Mary’s Little Monster” at Torn Page

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By Anthony J. Piccione

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what would happen if you took early-19th century Victorian culture, some notable individuals from that time period, Commedia-esque sexual humor, site-specific theatre, and electronic music with interpretive dance? Apparently, that seems to be a question that was on the minds of the folks at spit&vigor, when they designed to stage Thomas Kee’s play Mary’s Little Monster for their latest NYC production.

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Set in 1816, the play depicts a situation in which the likes of Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, Claire Clairmont, Dr. John Polidori, and Percy Bysshe Shelley all come together one fateful night in one dimly-lit house. The writing of the play is decent, but not outstanding, with plenty of dark humor and sexual innuendo (which borders on being quite explicit toward the finale) to keep the audience entertained, as the drama gradually builds up toward a climactic moment in which Ms. Shelly shares with the others a particular story of hers that one can easily guess, even without the obvious allusion in the title.

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What really makes the play a memorable experience, however, is the creative and somewhat unorthodox way in which it was produced. Staged in the historic West Village home of the late actors Rip Torn and Geraldine Page, the intimate setting is covered a variety of LED-lighting that gives the vibe of a spooky, Halloween-esque atmosphere, along with techno and modern R&B soundtracks with occasional dance interludes, blended with impressive costume designs that perfectly capture the time period in which the play is set. It’s a combination that you wouldn’t expect to work, but it ultimately feels right, and certainly makes for more interesting aesthetic choices.

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The five-person ensemble gave highly dramatic, almost Shakespearean performances that ultimately served the tone and atmosphere of this play and its production well. I particularly enjoyed the performance of Sara Fellini (also the play’s director) as Mary, who did a fine job at bringing to life the brilliant but psychologically troubled author.

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The end result of all this may be a pretty weird production, but personally, it was my kind of weird, and if you’re the time of person who enjoys dark, gothic plays with melodramatic performances, then it will probably be your type of weird, as well. While not without its flaws, it was nonetheless an enjoyable theatrical experience, and is worth your time seeing, if you have the chance to catch it during its last few performances.

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Mary’s Little Monster” stars Sara Fellini, Adam Belvo, Xandra Leigh Parker,Nicholas Thomas and Perri Yavin.

“Mary’s Little Monster” is written by Thomas Kee and directed by Sara Fellini, featuring lighting design by Chelsie McPhilimy, fight choreography by Adam Belvo, costume design by Sara Fellini, and publicity courtesy of Jay Michaels Arts & Entertainment.

“Mary’s Little Monster” – presented by spit&vigor – runs at Torn Page, located at 435 W 22nd Street, from July 18th-August 3rd. For ticket reservations, please visit http://www.eventbrite.com/e/marys-little-monster-by-thomas-kee-torn-page-tickets-62241405720.

 

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