Published in The Argus, February 28, 2011
The Cambrian Players’ production of The Lady’s not for Burning, by Glen Fry, is a memorable performance composed of wonderful actors, amazing sets and costumes, and a hilarious story. Following in the daunting footsteps of the company’s season opener, The Laramie Project, it did not disappoint – a feat in its own right.
The romantic comedy, set in the spring of 1430, takes place in the house of the Mayor, where preparations for an engagement party are underway. That is, until Thomas Mendip comes in asking to be hung.
Mendip, played by Alex Jecchinis, is exhausted with the world upon his return from war, wanting only to die, claiming he is a murderer. Meanwhile, the lovely young lady Jennet Jourdemayne (Jesica Bouvier) is begging for her life as she is sentenced to hang on accusations of witchcraft.
Throughout the action, Mayor Hebbel Tyson, Justice Tappercoom, and the Chaplain are trying to keep things under control while the Mayor’s scribe Richard (Andrew Paulsen) is up to some mischief of his own.
The soul-driven Nicholas Devize, played by Steven Gothard, is entirely spiritual and easily infatuated by any woman, including his brother’s young wife Alizon. Unlike Nicholas, brother Humphrey, played by Derek Wall, is very pragmatic and has not one soulful or spiritual bone in his body.
Their mother, Margaret is a loving yet erratic character who just wants the best for her two sons and is all the while trying to maintain harmony between the two. Colin Stewart’s performance as Matthew, who appears at the end of the play, is perhaps the most hilarious scene of all.
In spite of the dark and tragic nature of the play’s events, the play was hilarious and incredibly well done. Although set in the 1430s and written in 1948, it features jokes and lines that are very modern in nature, creating a nice juxtaposition with the medieval setting.
The cast, a blend of former professional actors, Cambrian veterans, and some newcomers, was exceptionally well chosen and is definitely the key feature to the show’s success. Each character possessed great depth, without the use of any unnecessary background or irrelevant information given.
Each character was played beautifully and there wasn’t a second of “bad acting”. Several actors credited the work of producer Sheena Albanese for the textured characterization. Albanese helped the actors get into character by sharing their personal lives and backgrounds amongst each other. It’s clear that each actor in this play has the potential to go far in the field.
The costumes were comparable to those seen in the Stratford festival – intricate and unique. It was obvious that much time, effort, and love was put into every aspect of the show.
Cambrian’s second play of the season, much like the first, is definitely one not to be missed!