The Brontes is not a play for lovers of 19th-century literature. In fact, some of this crowd will be offended by this irreverent production from Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Revue.
But that’s more fun for the rest of us, because Miss Lizzie puts on a show. If this show doesn’t throw much new light on Charlotte, Emily, Anne ( and Branwell) Bronte, it will entertain you a whole lot more than a senior English class.
If only a band of gypsies had visited the sisters and their troubled brother, as they do in this play, the period might be better thought of.
Led by the stentorian talents of Gillian Shelly, these gypsies blow the roof off of the tiny Redrum space every time they break into song. And they do it often; wisely, this production is more a concert with a cute little narrative than a play with musical performances.
Closes November 18, 2012
Fort Fringe – Redrum
607 NY Ave NW
1 hour, 30 minutes with no intermission
Tickets: $15 – $20
Thursdays thru Sundays
Cleverly written and composed by Steve McWilliams and Debra Buonaccorsi, the production rocks its way through the lives and personalities of the Bronte family. Branwell, the unknown brother appears as a comical opium-addict, if there really is such a thing. Emily, the best known, then watches as the cast performs an abbreviated presentation of “Wuthering Heights.” Dani Stoller, playing both Emily and Heathcliffe, portrays both characters with the same viscious energy. Was Heathcliffe really just Emily turned inside out? But Stoller really shines as a vocalist. Her backup work was really fine, but in the middle of the stage, holding the mic, she truly knows how to front a band, with a passionate style and vocal power that rivals Shelly’s. Emily Bronte couldn’t be anything like a rock star, but for a while Stoller makes you believe she was.
Anne, played by Laura Keena, provides us with the play’s most touching moments. Perhaps not as gifted as her sisters, she is the realist of the family. Keena’s performance is the most dramatic in the cast, as her character navigates through a lifetime of disappointments. From frantic desperation to calm acceptance, Anne is on the stage much briefer than she wants.
It is Charlotte, though, who is the story’s hero. The socially awkward girl who cannot find acceptance in life, Charlotte grows larger than life afterwards. Buonaccorsi saves the most rocking numbers for herself. Who knows if Charlotte was as angsty or as rebellious as Buonaccorsi portrays, she makes it fun anyway. If these performances stretch your disbelief, well then forget you’re watching a play and imagine you’re at a rock concert where the performers banter in an intellectual way. Whatever you like, you will enjoy yourself.
– The Brontes is 1 of 13 shows in this year’s Fall Fringe, produced by Capital Fringe. -
The Brontes. By Steve McWilliams and Debra Buonaccorsi. Directed by Rick Hammerly. Features Debra Buonaccorsi, Laura Keena, Jordan Klein, Steve McWilliams, Rich Nagel, Matthew Schleigh, Gillian Shelly, Dani Stoller and Jason Wilson. Designers: Joey Walls (Lighting Design), Maria Royals (Costume Design), Greg Stevens (Set Design), Dan Martin (Sound Design). Produced by Dizzie Miss Lizzies Roadside Revue. Reviewed by Steve Hallex.