We all know the story — man likes woman, woman likes man, woman is engaged to another man, yet another (disfigured) man lusts after the woman. She has him commit murder and complications ensue. (Murder rarely goes smoothly.) The Changeling tells a Jacobean tale of love, lust, betrayal, and madness and while I found the main plot compelling, a secondary plot of lunatics in an asylum had the play go off the rails.
The main story centers on Beatrice, a Spanish noblewoman who is taken with Alsemero, who returns the feeling. Unfortunately Beatrice is promised to another and she decides to enlist her father’s servant, the disfigured De Flores, to dispatch her intended. De Flores willingly does so, and then demands his payment — not all the money in the world but Beatrice herself. Beatrice finds herself not an unwilling participant in the payment after all — and more trouble ensues as her new intended is unaware of what his blushing bride has done. The murdered man’s brother tries to solve the crime, Alsemero’s friend is suspicious and Beatrice’s waiting woman pays a price for helping her lady. The actors were excellent in their portrayals as they went from loathing to lust, from suspicion to knowledge and from trusting to dead.
I found the other plot concerning the madhouse to be ridiculous and unnecessary. It doesn’t move the main plot along until the very end and I found the madmen silly as opposed to truly menacing and the sexual entendres were boring. The play was written by two playwrights in the 1600s and maybe one was responsible for the main plot, the other for the sub-plot and they decided to do a mash-up. The Changeling would’ve been a stronger play if it didn’t go in two different directions. AFW
Lucille Lortel Theatre, Red Bull Theater, 121 Christopher Street
Ticket price: $60
Discounts available: theatermania.com
Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes, one intermission
Runs thru: January 24