What would you do if for the longest time you were a performer at a Renaissance Faire who suddenly finds out that the faire is closing down in just two weeks due to poor attendance? Exactly! You have no idea! It’s a feeling that anyone in any field of work can experience and relate to. Though each individual struggle may vary, it does not take away the reality of it, even for performers of a Renaissance Faire located somewhere in the backwoods of Northern California.
The Faire, written by Crystal Finn and presented by Fault Line Theatre, captures this very struggle of five renaissance faire performers: the Actress, the Fencer, the Virgin, the Old Burnout and the Witch. The premise of The Faire and the events that unfold are not only overwhelmingly entertaining, but they also coincide with Fault Line Theatres’ ideology of creating ad producing socially relevant plays for today’s audiences. Through hilarity, tragedy and even sexual content, The Faire brings into focus each performer’s variant struggle and I feel it successfully makes each of their struggles entertainingly relatable to the audience.
This is definitely a play I would watch again and again!
The set of The Faire is just as entertaining as watching the performance unfold. Its vibrant colors, the banner that turns to let the audience know when the characters are performing in the faire, the blaring of renaissance music, the actors coming through the aisles as their faire characters, all makes the entire theatre come alive as if it has also transformed into a faire itself. The Director, Aaron Rossini, did an absolute magical job in having all these elements come together seamlessly.
The play begins with each character coming to find out that attendance at the Renaissance Faire has decreased. From the beginning we see the differences in each characters concern over this disheartening news. Angela, The Actress, played by Rachel Christopher, has already made her lack of fulfillment of working at the faire known to everyone and so upon hearing of the faire’s attendance numbers going down, she appears to be content and begins to contemplate her future. She wants something better for herself and knows that working at the faire is not going to advance her in any way.
She tries to discuss this with her boyfriend, Drake, The Fencer, played by Kelsey Kurz, who’s only concerns are to fulfill his constant sexual whims, his appearance and picking up the faire’s attendance numbers so he can continue playing his fencing character. The two are at constant loggerheads as they each have obvious disparate goals in life that only came to light in hearing the unfortunate news of the faire possibly closing down. Christopher is just darling in her role as Angela. She successfully displays her characters robustness in wanting to do better for herself and her desperation in wanting to achieve her goal in full veracity. Kurz is hysterically wonderful in his role as Drake. He displays his characters overconfidence, yet simple-minded reasoning with great humor. It was a delight to watch Christopher and Kurz interact with one another in their roles because of their characters obvious conflicting personalities and dissimilar life goals. It is all laughter between Drake’s nonsensical or crass comments and Angela’s direct and rational remarks to him.
Olivier, The Old Burnout, played by Grant R. Krauss, is the veteran performer of the Renaissance Faire. He has been part of the faire for the longest time and has stories galore to share, many of which he repeats throughout the play. Krauss is both comical and charming in his role as Olivier as he not only plays an old-timer that seems to always want some hash to supposedly help his joints as he performs, but also portrays a caring side with father like tendencies towards the faire performers. Krauss is perfection in portraying Olivier as the voice of reason, with just a touch of comical drunkenness, in a time of much-needed guidance for the faire performers.
Tilly, The Virgin, played by Jenny Seastone Stern, is hysterical in her role as the prissy, goody two shoed, virgin who has no reservation about announcing her innocence to everyone and making every non-virgin feel dirty. Tilly’s concern after finding out that the faire is closing is her obsession with her stage manager. How is she going to continue obsessing over him if he’s gone!? Stern portrays her characters obsession with the stage manager with so much hilarity. She is perfect in emitting her characters deep concern over the faire’s closing so intensely and comically that at one point I believe she steals the show.
Ursula, The Witch, played by Amanda Sykes, portrays the most laid back character of them all. Ursula’s concern about the faire closing is not what she is going to do with herself after it closes, but a more emotional concern. Who will she be able to see the world with? She is love-struck by one of the performers and would love to be with them but all goes horribly wrong. Sykes is wonderful in portraying Ursula as she combines just the right amount of disconnectedness to the events unraveling around her with enough consciousness to know that the faire’s closing is not the end of the world for her. I found her character to be the most profound of them all and Sykes does a magnificent job in displaying that.
Crystal Finn’s The Faire is a perfect dose of humor and reality. These characters, the Actress, the Old Burnout, the Fencer, the Virgin and the Witch, though seemingly not relatable at first thought because of their profession, all experience things that anyone of us can or have experienced. Through the comical aspect of each character, I was drawn into the play and it allowed me to focus on each of their individualistic concerns over the faire’s closing and their handling of it. This is a wonderful production and I believe it is ideal for any adult who loves to laugh and does not mind some strong sexual content. This is definitely a play I would watch again and again!
Running Time: Approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes with no intermission.
Advisory: Strong Sexual Content.
The Faire runs through March 1, 2014 at Fourth Street Theatre, 83 E. 4th Street, New York, NY 10003. For more information and for tickets, click here.