Cast photo by Caroline Poe with Liz Lay, the fearless captain of our pirate ship of a show, and the show's only set piece, the loom. This is about how we felt after reading this review. Thanks Dan, you are forgiven for hating Lonestar, which actually was a "lowbrow" show.
One of the best reviews for any show I’ve been involved in, and coming from Dan Solomon, who is no easy sell. You should read the whole thing, where Dan gets some stuff off his chest while praising our little pirate brothel show. But here’s some of the gold:
The basic premise is that Molly Forge (Chaille Stidham), the most popular prostitute at Connie’s Brothel, has come down with a sexually-acquired disease (“a sad”) called “St. Matilda’s Malady”. The chain of events that this inspires sends a pirate queen, a dashing captain, a juggling prostitute, an ornery madame, and a charming naive named Sampson all crashing through the doors of the brothel, as the sad spreads and the characters’ complicated relationships reveal themselves. The plot’s surprisingly complex, for a 25-minute piece, but it’s not really the point: The point is the interaction between the wordplay and the cast.
The highlight of the show is Talleri McRae as Tammy, the least popular prostitute at the brothel, who enjoys the most stage time and runs around like a screwball comedienne, hiding characters and taking on assumed identities. McRae takes a thankless role (her character’s primary distinction is how unappealing men find her) and sets a tone that makes St. Matilda irrepressibly fun, all high energy and grounded goofiness that only makes the sincere emotional connections that the characters seek all the more charming.
And this is something else that could prove educational to theatermakers who’ve confused making art with staidness: It’s easier to connect with characters we like. It’s impossible to come to a nuanced understanding of what drives Jenn Hartmann‘s Dirty Vicky the Pirate Queen, but since we’re seeing something compelling every time she’s on stage, we want her to succeed. While no one would confuse St. Matilda’s Malady with a serious, heavy piece of theater, it accomplishes something that a lot of the performances that aim to be exactly that fail to do: It makes us care, even briefly, about what’s happening on stage.
We love fun here at Austinist. (You should see our toy collection.) We’re just not generally fond of seeing “fun” used as a synonym for “lazy”. And we’re lucky to have shows like St. Matilda’s Malady to remind us that there’s a difference.
Ken's IMDB picture > your IMDB picture
So this being my first Frontera Fest, I was never really sure about how the whole competition aspect of it went down. I talked to Ken Webster last night before we went on and asked some questions. Imagine two people talking casually, then take it down about 18 more notches. I love talking to Ken. It sort of feels like time is slowing down as you enter Coolville.
JMJ: So, is there an overall winner, or are we all winners at this point?
KW: I think you’re all pretty much winners.
JMJ: So we’re not being timed?
KW: Oh, you’re still being timed.
JMJ: So if we went over, we couldn’t come back on Friday?
KW: You’d probably come back.
JMJ: So they just bring the lights down to…. shame us?
KW: Yeah, pretty much to just to shame you.
I also asked him if there was a sort of Lombardi trophy-like moment, at the end of the festival. He said maybe one could be arranged. Which would be awesome because I really want to pour a cooler of gaterade on Liz Lay.
Jenn Hartmann as Dirty Vickie. And me with SAD, but without my fancy up-do. Photo by Caroline Poe.
We left our competition bloated as the barnacles at the bottom of the bay!!! We going in for more battle on Tuesday and Friday night at 8 pm. There are still tickets left as of today for Tuesday night. See the Austinist’s schedule writeup here.
Before my madam hair is achieved, I go through what I like to call the Robert Smith transition.
Yes I know Lost premieres tonight, but seriously, how can it compete with LIVE SWORDS!!! LIVE COMEDY!!! LIVE AWESOMENESS!!!!
From what I have been told, at 8, the nationally ranked fencing team will do a 15 minute fencing demonstration, then, following that, there will be a full-on “Pirates of the Caribbean-esque” saber battle, and then, at the 30 minute mark, our little pirate/whore play. DOES THAT NOT SOUND INCREDIBLE? We are super excited. Here’s the release:
The University of Texas Fencing Club teams up with the cast and company of St. Matilde’s Malady to present to you an evening of sword fighting and sailor comedy. Come enjoy dueling demonstrations and a stage combat sabre battle followed by the performance of the lauded 2010 FronteraFest “Best of Week” Short Fringe selection, St. Matilde’s Malady.
February 2nd @ 8pm
Belmont Hall, third floor
All proceeds will help send the UT Fencing Club to the 2010 Collegiate National Championships.
Click on the link to find out where Belmont Hall is located. All I know is that its in the Stadium on the third floor, on the San Jacinto side.