Taffety Punk Theatre Company’s “Rulebreaker Rep” — directed with a clear vision by Lise Bruneau — focuses on rebellious and freethinking writers throughout history. It questions the meaning and obligations that come from claiming the word “artist.” Is the artistic lifestyle harming society or is society hindering the artistic lifestyle?
Bloody Poetry follows Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley (his mistress who later becomes his wife), Mary’s half-sister Claire Clairmont, and Lord Byron as they meet on Lake Geneva and write some of the best and most beloved works of the 19th century.
Dan Crane’s (Percy Shelley) boyish charm with sinister overtones is intriguing and his frighteningly careless ways prove him ruinous. Mary Shelley is played with strength and grace by Esther Williamson. Williamson plays the piano beautifully in the background throughout the performance, creating a cohesive marriage of music and words true to Taffety Punk’s mission (“We think of ourselves as a band.”). It is almost as though Williamson is playing for companions in a parlor.
Ian Armstrong is headstrong, arrogant, and undeniably charming as famed poet Lord Byron. His commentary is cutting (“You think poetry is harmless. You do not know ideas can kill.”) Tonya Beckman is graceful, womanly, commanding, and, at times, heartbreakingly naïve, as Claire Clairmont.
James Flanagan plays one of the most interesting roles as commentator and writer Dr. William Polidori. His firm and sarcastic presence contrasts well with the band of free-thinking and free loving writers.
Closes May 31, 2014
Capitol Hill Arts Workshop
545 7th Street, SE
2 hours, 15 minutes with 1 intermission
Details and Tickets
Dramaturg Catherine Ichniowski claims finding the phrase “an experiment in ideal living” frequently in her research. Howard Brenton’s script makes us question the concept of not only ideal living, but also the artistic lifestyle. Is carefree and instinctual living a courageous act or a selfish one? When we are creating and living by our art, should we be held responsible for how our actions affect others, or merely what our intentions were?
Taffety Punk’s Bloody Poetry is “a great big bloody beautiful fire.” Like the murky waters of real life; its poetry and insight won’t clearly define its heroes, answers, or villains. Come with questions – leave with questions and insight into the lives of some of literature’s greatest minds and rule breakers. Were they misunderstood as Lord Byron claims (“Another man gone about whom the world is brutally mistaken”) or merely reckless? You decide.