14 July 2016

Theatre: The Masks of Aphra Behn

Aphra Behn might not be an obvious choice of subject in a festival of Women at War, yet this production explains exactly why she should be included.

The name Aphra Behn might be most recognisable to you as one of the first female playwrights of the English stage during the restoration period.  I just so happen to be a bit of a restoration history nerd (my dissertation was on theatrical representations of the Earl of Rochester) so I knew this would appeal to me.  However I wasn't aware of Aphra's pre-theatrical past in the secret service.

When playing in a fringe theatre there is often nothing to hide behind, without the elaborate set and costume you’ve got to really nail your performance and let it exist on its own merit.  Thankfully, this show manages to do just that.  The dialogue throughout is written almost poetically in keeping with the time.  This also allows the fantastic, notorious wit of Behn to shine through.  It's this attribute which contributed heavily to the success of her play writing, even if it was through the guise of a male writer.

The actress Claire Louise Amias delivery was strong throughout, and could easily move from heartbreak to humour seamlessly.  She manages to make you forget that this hour long performance is actually a monologue, as she switches between characters in conversation.  There was some stumbling through speech in parts but nothing that couldn’t be ironed out in time.  A strong script and a strong performance.  

The Masks of Alpha Behn is on until the 31st of July as part of the Women and War festival.  I was kindly invited to review this performance by Theatre Bloggers.
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