Theatre Review By DON FOWLER David Greig's "e;The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart"e; takes place in a pub and bed and breakfast on the Scotland/England border. It deals with life and death, is filled with clever rhyming couplets, but it is neither
David Greig’s “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart” takes place in a pub and bed and breakfast on the Scotland/England border. It deals with life and death, is filled with clever rhyming couplets, but it is neither Shakespeare nor Moliere. What it is, is clever, modern, innovative, metaphysical, sublime to ridiculous theatre.
The heroine is an academic scholar of Scottish “border ballads” and folklore who attends an academic conference only to be taken on a dreamlike journey of self-discovery.
Prudencia (Meg Sullivan) feels out of place among other scholars who look down on her “old fashioned” studies, especially Dr. Colin Syme (Dan Ruppel). A midwinter storm forces Colin and Prudencia to make it to a nearby B&B, but after an evening of karaoke and partying at the pub the two get separated and lost looking for the B&B.
Prudencia gets seduced into the Devil’s lair, and after a brief intermission finds herself in Hell, surrounded by a library of “everything that ever was.” I hesitate to tell you what happens to her in the second act without spoiling the surrealistic atmosphere.
Sullivan, Ruppel and Marcel Mascaro as the Devil are all marvelous in their respective roles, surrounded by an ensemble of talented actor/musicians who help move the story along. Shannon Hartman plays the flute and guitar like a true Scot, backed by Ava Macena on fiddle, Jason Quinn on guitar, all with fine voices, including Clare Blackmer.
The first act is a bit long, bogged down by an overdone bacchanal scene that needs cutting, but it all sets the stage for a most clever second act where everything comes together.
Prudencia literally “dances with the devil” on her dreamlike journey of sel-discovery. Was it all a dream? Is Hell a figment of our imaginations?
Director Brien Lang takes this multi-leveled play through its many twists and turns to a satisfying conclusion.
Arrive early and listen to some pleasant Scottish tunes. Beer, wine and soft drinks are available.
After its run at Wilbury’s Olneyville space, the musical play will be performed at a few local pubs. Go online at the wilburygroup.org for dates and times.