Echo Theatre, a company devoted to work by female playwrights, knocks it over the lake at the Bath House Cultural Center with their current production, The Lucky Chance; Or, An Alderman's Bargain, a scandalous 17 th century comedy written by Aphra Behn, the first professional woman playwright in the English language.
In his adaptation, director René Moreno has moved the saucy story based on the very real travesties of the 17 th century marriage market in London to the pop-rock of the '60s era when women were once more taking the stage in mini-skirts and high-heel boots and shaking up the establishment. In the double plot, two ripe young women in love with penniless young studs are forced to marry rich old codgers. Before love finds a way, we're carried through a cleverly convoluted romp of disguised lovers, scheming judges, desperate daughters, pastoral seduction scenes and even a visit from the devil himself.
As the plot thickens, Moreno finds a plausible moment for the actors to lip-sync a hit from Herman's Hermits or LuLu and other '60s songs. Hearing the old voices apparently coming out of these lively bodies is weird and oddly mesmerizing—and entirely bizarre—a real Moreno touch.
Leticia (a teasingly modest Martha Harms dressed in short-short virgin whites) loves Bellmour (an angular, ardent and articulate Austin Tindle), but he cannot stop her marriage to the hard-breathing old judge Sir Feeble Fainwood (a lovably enormous and lecherous Bradley Campbell in his three-piece poly finery). This hilarious triangle is funniest when Bellmour appears disguised as Sir Fainwood's nephew from Oxford, wearing horn-rim glasses and anxious for a moment alone with his new auntie.
Bellmour's buddy Gayman (a hunky, party-proof Brandon Sterrett) has squandered his inheritance on jewels for the beauteous Lady Julia Fulbank (the sophisticated and darkly sexy Laurel Alons), but she's married to the money-grubbing Sir Cautious Fulbank (Adrian Spencer Churchill). Gayman will do anything for a few bucks to stay in the game with Julia—even if it means enduring the embraces of his sex-starved old landlady (a hilariously aggressive Kateri Cale). The best scene rising from this volatile plot is the high-stakes gamble where a night of love with Julia or the loss of a fortune literally turns on a roll of the dice.
Adding to the happy confusion is the plight of Sir Fainwood's pretty daughter Diana (a wide-eyed and reed-thin Carissa Jade Olsen) who has also been promised to a man she doesn't love. The three women form a colorful triumphant trio proclaiming their love and grooving to Skeeter Davis' "End of the World."
The fun of the show is in hearing the witty and suggestive words of Behn's script delivered perfectly by the excellent 12-member cast, tricked out in Ryan Matthieu Smith's gaudy and sexy '60s costumes. From crocheted and fake-fur vests to brightly floral- and fruit–print chiffons, the luscious girls look good enough to eat. Old men and young men alike are suited out in lilac or chartreuse coats and trousers. There's even a little Sgt. Pepper military fringe, and the devil comes to call in red and black satin, with a top hat and cape.
Everybody looks great in tights dyed in every shade from hot pink to ochre—and fantastic looking in Sara Romersberger's dance numbers. I loved the whole cast swaying and stomping together as they lip-synced "United We Stand" signaling the end of the show—and conjuring up Elton and everybody else that ever sang this happy communal anthem.