By Carolyn Palombo | Staff Writer
A frantic play with unhinged humor, The Busy Body’s fast-paced, electrifying environment thrills anyone who sees it, and the Red Masquers have really done the Susanna Centlivre play justice.
Immediately noticeable is the play’s comedy. The Busy Body’s humor applies to all types of people, with jokes ranging from witty commentary, to outrageous body movements, to synchronized staging, to simple dirty jokes. Actress Amy Dick aptly described the play as, “Oscar Wilde meets Shakespeare.”
That being said, The Busy Body takes place in the 18th century, so the language is a little outdated but is comparable to other famed playwright’s of similar times. The Busy Body truly has something for everyone, and even modern audiences can be sure to laugh when watching this play.
The show starts with Charles (Evan W. Saunders) and Sir George Airy (Nathaniel Yost) discussing a plot for Sir George Airy to achieve Miranda’s (Amy Dick) love. The only issue is that Sir Francis Gripe (Jay Keenan) wishes to keep Miranda, his ward, for himself to marry.
As if one marriage problem wasn’t enough, Charles and Isabinda (Sadie Crow) are in love as well, but Isabinda’s father, Sir Jealous Traffik (Nathan Freshwater), only wishes for his daughter to marry a Spanish merchant. While both couples fight the forces that keep them separated, Marplot (Tim Colbert) tries to help his friends as much as possible. But the issue is he never helps — he only tends to make matters worse.
The elaborate plot makes the show entertaining, non-stop. The play is full of contagious energy brought by the actors and the excitement on stage. Keenan’s riveting dialogue creates bursts of laughter from the audience. The tones in his voice range from explosively loud to quietly sweet, and he is extraordinary in his role and enticing to watch.
Yost is excellent as Sir George Airy as well. He’s loud and powerful, and every time he is on stage, he steals all of the attention. His character is large and in-charge, and he manages to go above and beyond expectations. He mastered the art of body language, and the influence it has on the comedy — from the pelvic swinging to the synchronized stomping — elicits an uproar of laughter from the audience every time. Yost certainly brings the energy the play needs to make it fantastic.
Although his character is not as audacious, Colbert as Marplot is certainly just as energetic. He does an absolutely superb job running after character after character, secret after secret. Despite not being involved in the marriage plots, Marplot is generally understood to be the star of the show — and after seeing the play, I understand why. Colbert moves through the story with excitement and vigor, pushing the plot to its unraveling. He is full of sass and curiosity and acts in such a lively, hilarious way.
Just as great as the actors are the grand and elegant costumes. The men’s wigs, robes and canes fit the time period well, and the women sport showstopping wigs and gorgeous gowns.
All elements of the play were well-thought out, the only criticism being blocking. The audience is split up into three sections surrounding the stage, which is great unless you sit in the middle of one of the sections on the left or right — exactly where I sat. Many of the scenes were hard to see because the tables and chairs are lined up in a straight line. I think it would work better if those tables and chairs were turned to an angle making them diagonal so they didn’t face one section (or just make sure you arrive at the theater early).
Overall, though, The Busy Body is an exciting, funny, enticing show and a must-see. Many say that you can’t just read Susanna Centlivre’s plays, with one actor even professing that, “[Centlivre’s work] was not considered to be worth reading — you have to see it.” The costumes are astonishing, the scenery is fitting and the actors are thrilling. This play is full of vibrant characters in a fast-paced world and is sure to have everyone laughing.
The Red Masquers are showcasing The Busy Body Nov. 2-12 at the Genesius Theater.