Please to remember the Fifth of November …

… and Bill Cain’s new play Equivocation.

… and Bill Cain’s new play about it.

If you’re interested in:

*  The Gunpowder Plot

*  Shakespeare

* Torture

*  Comedy

* Tragedy

* Propaganda

*  Macbeth

*  Robert Cecil

*  Richard Cheney

*  James I

*  George W. Bush

* The moral philosophy of equivocation

or just a tightly-crafted, witty, moving play, tightly directed and superbly acted, then I suggest that you arrange to see Equivocation, now at the Geffen in Los Angeles and on its way to New York.  Having seen it, I will never think the same way either about Cecil or about the Porter scene in Macbeth.  It’s hard to say much about it without spoiling the plot, but I haven’t had such a moving and intellectually challenging evening in the theater in as long as I remember.

Of the six actors, two play single roles: Joe Spano as Shakespeare and Troian Bellisario as his daughter Judith.  Patrick Adams, Harry Groener, Brian Henderson, and Connor Tinneer all double up, playing members of the company of the Globe, the characters they portray in Lear and Macbeth, and also participants in the events surrounding Gunpowder Plot, including  Fr. Henry Garnett, the Superior of the English Jesuits; Robert Cecil; and James I.  At moments, the actors have to switch characters on stage, and it’s a measure of their skill, and that of director David Esbjornson, that the device seems illuminating rather than distracting.

At the performance I saw, understudy Kate Rylie filled in for the absent Bellisario, and just about stole the show in an extremely difficult role.   You’ll be hearing that name again, if there’s justice in the world.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

2 thoughts on “Please to remember the Fifth of November …”

  1. Huh. Last week I saw a reading of "Mortal Terror" by Robert Brustein at the ART in Cambridge. It had much the same subject: Macbeth and the Gunpowder Plot.

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