The Gaming Table at The Folger Shakespeare Library

I love Restoration comedy. Love it. My favorite show that I did in college was She Stoops to Conquer (I played Miss Neville). It's still one of my favorite plays. I love the costumes, the language, the mistaken identities, everything. While The Gaming Table is an enjoyable night of theatre, I felt it left something to be desired.

The story itself is really quite good - plenty of intrigue and lovers being kept apart until the very end. In fact, the women in this play are much more outspoken and independent than most written in the same time period. These ladies want it all - money, love, and the freedom to do as they see fit with both. The servants are adequately saucy and in everyone's business (especially Lady Reveller's maid, Alpiew (Emily Townley)). The father, Sir Richard Plainman (Michael Willis) is pompous and kind of a jerk to his daughter Valeria (Emily Trask), who prefers science and learning to men (which, to be fair, is pretty refreshing). She does end up marrying Ensign Lovely (Robbie Gay), but only after an elaborate trick is played on her father by two well-meaning men. There's Lady Reveller (Julie Jesneck) herself, who professes to prefer cards to men, though that doesn't seem to be the case when Lord Worthy (Marcus Kyd) is around. Then Mr and Mrs Sago show up (Darius Pierce and Tonya Beckman Ross, respectively) and have their story and finally Sir James Courtly (the phenomenal and beautiful Michael Milligan) who loves Lady Reveller's cousin Lady Lucy (Katie deBuys) but can't have her because she hates gaming and he loves it. Actually, there might be too many stories - none of them really get fleshed out enough to where you're comfortable with any of the characters. There's always someone popping in or out or down and you're never quite sure who they're related to or who they love and why or how they came to be in the house in the first place. At least, that's how I felt about it.

I want my house to look like Marion Williams' set. It's so beautiful and quirky and fun. In fact, my only issue with any of the designs was one tiny costume choice - the men's socks. They looked like they were all wearing these gorgeous period frock coats and beautiful shirts and then... gym socks that are far too long. It was so distracting to me! There was so much attention to detail throughout all the costumes, then those socks appeared and they just ruined the effect.

Overall, the show is rather charming. There's a good deal of excellent acting and some wonderful moments. 3 stars.


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