Between men chasing after women and women wanting men, MSU Denver Theatre Department’s production of “The Country Wife” reminds us no matter what time period, sex rules all.
“The Country Wife” by William Congreve, was written in 1675 as a Restoration comedy. This style of English comedy was a return to the risque in theater and features themes previously banned by Puritan rule.
“The Country Wife” plays with themes of sex and infidelity.
Mr. Horner, in an attempt to get closer to the women of London, spreads a rumor he has become a eunuch. He thinks if the men of the town believe he is sexually harmless then they will let him near their wives.
As the show goes on Horner is successful in convincing the women of London to see for themselves if he was castrated or not.
The wife of Mr. Pinchwife, Margery, takes a special liking to Horner and is constantly trying to find ways to get closer to the bachelor.
This production proves that the MSU Denver Theatre Department understands comedy and they can make a 340 year play appealing to modern college students.
The script was adapted by director and theater professor Jeffrey Parker. He was able to take the ideas and themes of the scripts and add more modern innuendos and jokes that felt right at home in the show.
The cast’s comedic timing was on point for the level of comedy this show required. Will Hunter as Honor was devilish, sexy and quick witted all at once. He was able to seduce the women on stage, the women in the audience and a couple of the guys all with his flirty charm and perfect delivery of these old English jokes.
Jerry Chavez starred opposite Hunter as Mr. Pinchwife. His use of physical humor was a riot throughout the show. Although it was over the top for my taste, he always added a nice joke to every scene he was in.
The women of the show held up their comedic pitches as well. Brianna Herman, Megan Schraeder and Audrey Carrothers all proved women in the 1600s were not only cunning and willing to work for what they wanted, they went after anything they desired. These women constantly were able to get the audience rolling in their chairs with their quick wit.
Michael Rossitto was a stand out in his role as Sparkish. There was not a single moment he was on stage that the whole room was not filled with laughter. Rossitto is one of the brightest up-and-coming stars of the Colorado theater community and this production adds to the long list of show stopping performances he has given.
The production aspects of this show were high quality but seemed like it just missed the mark. The setting was a gorgeous blue marble English manson. Although it looked great, it felt too under the sea to be in London. It felt as if the show was set in King Triton’s palace and not the home of a wealthy bachelor. The excessive blue paint paired with the blue and purple pattern lighting was too strong.
There were also issues with the door on the set as they would easily open and close but not latch right away causing flapping doors, and at times sights of arms behind them to holding the doors in place.
During scene transitions, the stage crew would bring out the next set pieces and cheekily turn to the audience and perform air flips and carry their hands in the air. Although I felt it took the audience out of the show for a moment, the rest of audience was eating it up and it even garnered a few snorts.
“The Country Wife” was a surprising production. Not many would expect a 17th century English comedy to get as many laughs as it did, especially from a college audience. The cast’s near perfect comedic timing and delivery was spectacular and left me wishing I had seen this cast do other comedies such as “Noises Off” or “You Can’t Take It With You.”
“The Country Wife” at MSU Denver Theatre Department ***(out of four)
Special Note: All MSU Denver students are free with valid school ID.
“The Country Wife” is now playing at the Eugenia Rawls Courtyard Theatre, 855 Lawrence Way, Denver, CO, 80204. Directed by Jeffery Parker. Starring Will Hunter, Jerry Cruz and Brianna Herman. Through Oct. 8. Tickets at ahec.edu/boxoffice or 303-556-2296. Tickets: Students and Seniors $10 and Adults $20. All MSU Denver students are free with valid school ID.