Reg Rogers, Jennifer Sánchez, Manoel Felciano and Carson Elrod Photo by Carol Rosegg
An updated version of English playwright Ben Jonson’s rowdy, plague-set comedy The Alchemist is now playing at New World Stages. With an actors cast of actors, adaptor Jeffrey Hatcher’s and director Jesse Berger’s version has doors slamming left and right as the Red Bull’s Company takes farce to the nth degree, but it doesn’t always pay off.
At the center of this play are the butler, Face (Manoel Felciano), his accomplices Subtle (the fabulous Reg Rogers) and Dol Common (Jennifer Sánchez) who due to a plague now use Face’s master’s empty house in the city to fleece the local gentry.
Greed is at the center of all the slapstick and double entendres. Expect every kind of crude joke there is, as criminal capitalism ensues.
The folks ripe for plucking include Drugger (Nathan Christopher) who wants to sell more tobacco, Drapper (Carson Elrod ), who wants a good-luck charm to improve his gambling odds, Sir Epicure Mammon (Jacob Ming-Trent), who covets the philosopher’s stone so he can turn any metal into gold. Sir Mammon also has an appetite for Dol who becomes a golden carnal frenzy at a single word.
Surley (Louis Mustillo) is a skeptic and Ananias (Stephen DeRosa), is from “a religious maniac. A angry young man (Allen Tedder) and his widowed sister (Teresa Avia Lim) make up the cast of fools.
There are some interesting directorial choices regarding accents and at times you have no idea which era this show is in due to the jokes and language.
Alexis Distler’s bi-level set are well done and allow for all the comedic entrances and exits. Tilly Grimes’ costumes are a delight and Cha See’s lighting keeps things hidden and seen.
Rogers, Sánchez and Mustillo are the ones to keep your eyes on.
The Alchemist by the Red Bull Theater: New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St. though Dec. 19th. Running time: 2 hours.