Marshall University Theatre and the Lunar Stratagem, the international touring theater company based in Huntington, will premiere Lunar Stratagem’s newest work , “Can You Forgive Her?” in performances Thursday, Dec. 12, through Saturday, Dec. 14. All three performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center on Marshall’s Huntington campus.
For tickets and more information, please call the Marshall Theatre box office at (304) 696-ARTS (2787) or visit www.marshall.edu/somt/theatre/marshall-university-theatre-alliance/the-joan-c-edwards-performing-arts-center/.
Written by postman-turned-novelist Anthony Trollope (1815-82), “Can You Forgive Her?” is actually three interconnected stories. Alice (played by Marshall Theater faculty member Nicole Perrone) is engaged to the sterling John Grey (Shawn Parr), but to the horror of her family and society, she ends the engagement to resume an affair with her former lover, the cad and ne’er-do-well George (also played by Parr). Lady Glencora (Vanessa Sawson) is already married to Lord Palliser (Andi Dëma), a brilliant but passionless Member of Parliament, but her heart still belongs to the doomed Burgo Fitzgerald (Hurricane native and recent Marshall graduate Nathan Mohebbi). The eccentric widow Aunt Greenow (Samantha Rosentrater) claims to be in mourning for her husband, yet she encourages the courtship of Mr. Cheesacre, a fat Norfolk farmer with leathern manners (also played by Dëma).
“I was interested in this classic Victorian story as an example of how an individual sometimes gets lost trying to make everyone else happy,” says adaptor-director and Lunar Stratagem Artistic Director Matthew Earnest. “It takes courage to put on the brakes and do things in your own time, when everyone would rather you just do what you’re told.”
Trollope’s story, written from 1864 to 1865, is sometimes elegantly lyrical, sometimes crude, and always gossipy fun. As a postman in Victorian London, he most likely knew more of people’s private business than they realized, and out of these complex connections and salacious details he created the massive 2-volume novel, “Can You Forgive Her?”, as well as his great and celebrated Parliamentary novels, sometimes referred to as The Barchester Series. Earnest’s modern take on the story combined with his very contemporary stagecraft slyly asks us to examine how much of our lives are still structured on these old models, and especially, why romantic love and marriage, fundamental elements of our world, have always caused us so much consternation and so much joy.
In addition to the giddiness of courtship and the heartbreak of a marriage falling apart, “Can You Forgive Her?” contains something that has become a signature of works by The Lunar Stratagem – dancing. “Some directors are actors; some are painters,” says Earnest. “I’m just a frustrated choreographer. I love to try to communicate ideas and relationships with as few words as possible, and if I can, with none.” “Can You Forgive Her?” could actually be classified as a contemporary dance-theater work, as the movement sequences, both literal and abstract, are as essential to the storytelling as Trollope’s hilarious, elegant text.
The production design, juxtaposing the trappings of pristine Victoriana with our own post-industrial America, is by William Bezek. The sound design is by Anthony Narciso.