The Rover by Aphra Behn:
OK so who wouldn’t be fascinated. Aphra Behn was the first professional writer in English Literature, a career she took up after working as a spy for Charles II as a way of paying off her debts! What’s more, although she was very successful in her own day, Behn created characters that defy their time and place in history – women who question the right of men to infidelity and expect equality- and plays with themes tackling such modern day issues as rape!
Natalie York, Director of Pell Mell Theatre was struck by the relevance of this 17th century drama to modern day reactions to rape and ran pop-up events around the streets of Camden before the play started its current run at the New Diorama Theatre in London. The story, set in Naples is of a young sea captain who has a history of philandering and of his eventual reform when he meets the feisty Hellena, who challenges him with her opinion that marriage and fidelity are just as boring for women as for men, although she is still a virgin!
The sub-plot revolves around the abuse of one English gentleman by courtesans of the City who seduce him and rob him. His reaction is to turn on the first woman who comes close and attempt to get revenge by raping her.
Having seen one past performance by Pell Mell, I was again impressed by the professionalism and smooth performance of ‘The Rover’ on Saturday – acting that wouldn’t be out of place at the National and simple but effective costumes and set. These are mostly young actors at the start of their careers and I am sure there are stars of the future in the cast. I particularly enjoyed Matt Gibb’s Blunt and the cheeky Lucy Wray as Hellena.
Tickets for The Rover are available from the New Diorama Box Office
Pell Mell Theatre Company at The New Diorama
15 – 16 Triton Street,
London, NW1 3BF