Playful Comedy OR, set for Park Square Theatre - Theatre News - Theatre In Minneapolis - Minneapolis
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Playful Comedy OR, set for Park Square Theatre

Or Park Square Theatre MinneapolisSpies, secrets, and sensuality abound as Park Square Theatre presents the regional premiere of Liz Duffy Adams' stylish play OR, on stage February 22-March 17, 2013. A comedic romp set in 1666 Restoration England, OR, combines fact with fiction in a tale complete with secret agents, cross dressing, rhyming couplets, and lovers hiding in cupboards. Playwright Adams brilliantly weaves Elizabethan verse and clever transitions into modern prose, all in a style reminiscent of the film Shakespeare in Love.

London 1666 is a time of social upheaval and reform. The Great Fire has destroyed much of the city and the Plague has taken its deadly toll. In the aftermath of the seeming apocalypse, the new king of England, Charles II, is restored to the monarchy. Sexual liberty is in the air and England's first female playwright, Aphra Behn, takes center stage. "We all embody opposites within, or else we're frankly far too dull to live," says Aphra. With her new sense of emancipation, she toys with the King and the era's "It Girl," actress Nell Gwynne. Filled with witty dialogue, plot intrigues and pointed satire of the upper-class social system, OR, is a play such as one Aphra Behn might have written in the 1660s.

While the play's setting takes place nearly 350 years ago, many connections will resonate with today's audiences. There are distinct and intentional parallels between Aphra Behn's world of 1660s England and the 1960s in America. Both eras experienced a period of social reform. Realizing that life was uncertain, people took control and challenged those who would repress them. "It's a new golden age, babe," Aphra proclaims to Nell between passionate kisses. "Peace, love and happiness," she says. "Tune in and turn on." OR, has frank sexual content but no nudity.

Directed by Leah Cooper, OR, will be the second Twin Cities premiere this season for playwright Liz Duffy Adams. Cooper had the opportunity to meet with the playwright when she was in town for Buccaneers, Duffy's high-seas musical that debuted at the Children's Theatre Company and talk about her approach to this new work.

"This story addresses feminism, but it's not an overtly feminist play," says Cooper. "It is a sensual celebration of intelligence and emotional freedom. Aphra is the intellectual woman who becomes more sensual. Nell is the sensual woman who becomes more intellectual. The play is about where they meet in the middle."

Cooper continues, "This is Charles' play as much as Aphra's and Nell's. Raised abroad, powerful enough to raise an army, Charles was returning to England to rescue his father when he learned his father was executed. He came back to an England that was nothing like the one he left. Charles rebuilt it-newer, better. He poured money into theatre, believed in free love and took care of all the children that resulted from his liaisons. OR, can be perceived on many levels, but deep down, it is a love story, with a dramatic backdrop."

Cooper has cast a stellar group of actors for this production: Emily Gunyou Halaas (Opus at Park Square) portrays the formidable Aphra Behn, Mo Perry (The Last Seder at Park Square) is the sultry Nell Gwynne and Matt Guidry makes his Park Square debut as Charles II.

Cooper's production team for OR, includes Amy Bouthilette (Properties Designer), Annie Cady (Costume Designer), Michael P. Kittel (Lighting Designer), Katharine Horowitz (Sound Designer), Michael Hoover (Scenic Designer), Dominic Orlando (Assistant Director) and Megan West (Stage Manager).

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