Review: “Henslowe! Or, A Lamentable Complaint” at Torn Page
By OuterStage lead reviewer, Anthony J. Piccione
The diary of Philip Henslowe serves as a notable artifact for theatre historians who seek to know more about theatre and drama during the Elizabethan era in London. Such shows were, of course, known for their ability to entertain massive audiences, and to provoke various emotional and intellectual reactions from theatergoers. Unfortunately, however, such descriptions cannot be used to describe Alexander D. Carney’s new solo-show that is named for Mr. Henslowe.
While the first few moments prior to Carney’s entrance as Henslowe are mildly promising – with a minimalistic but intriguing set, lighting and sound design that attempt to set the tone for the show – it quickly goes downhill from there, as over the course of nearly one hour, we are treated to a long monologue that perhaps could have made a decent portion of a larger play, if edited down a ton, but as it is presented, makes for a lackluster night of theatre. Carney’s monotone delivery of the piece doesn’t help. Despite an impressive resume of acting credits, you’d never know that he’s up for more than a community theatre Shakespearean production without looking at the program.
Most embarrassing for him and his production was the fact that Mr. Carney apparently wasn’t fully prepared to deliver his own lines, despite also being credited the writer. There was at least one point where Mr. Carney clearly referred to himself was “Philip Hensen”, instead of Henslowe. When we wasn’t bungling the lines, however, he was forced to call “line” mid-performance on numerous occasions, with the line being read out loud to him by Natividad Alemany – who is credited as assistant stage manager in the program, but might as well have been credited as stage manager, both due to the lack of another stage manager being present, and particularly given Mr. Carney over-reliance on her. While Carney’s script itself is hardly unique or inspiring already, perhaps it still could have benefited from having a different actor performing it, rather than him doing it himself.
For enthusiasts of Shakespeare and Renaissance drama, perhaps this piece might be of mild interest to you, if you’re willing to overlook the lackluster (to put it kindly) delivery of it, although it’s unlikely you would be learning much that you couldn’t already discover with some independent research of your own. However, for those who don’t have more than a soft, casual interest in this historical period, this incredibly dull piece is highly unlikely to get you to be more interested than you previously were, and will likely be just at least as unmemorable to you as it is to its own writer.
HENSLOWE! OR, A LAMENTABLE COMPLAINT
“Henslowe! Or, A Lamentable Complaint” is written and performed by Alexander D. Carney and directed by Michael Mahony, featuring assistant stage manager Natividad Alemany.
“Henslowe! Or, A Lamentable Complaint” – presented by Raised Spirits Theater – runs at Torn Page, located at 435 W 22nd Street, New York, NY, from October 1st-6th.