REVIEW: Mauckingbird Theatre’s The Sisterhood Reimagines Gender Norms
Who could have ever thought a 17th-century French play could be so gay and gender-bending — and work so damn well as a result?
Philly-based Mauckingbird Theatre Company,, known for its LGBTQ twist on classic plays, kicked off its ninth season with a timely spin on Ranjit Bolt’s adaptation of Moliere’s Les Femmes Savantes (The Learned Ladies). Mauckingbird calls its production The Sisterhood, and the decision becomes even more interesting given that there is only one woman in a cast full of men.
The definition of sisterhood turns out to be relative in this instance, as typical gender roles and expressions prescribed to men are dismissed in the storyline. The plot is centered around two male lovers’ quest to marry in spite of their society’s infatuation with pseudo-intellectualism.
In the world of leading character Philaminte (played by Donna Snow), same-sex marriage isn’t even a debate; everyone is naturally in favor of it. However, the question of the usefulness of marriage itself is at the heart of the plot.
Contemporary notions of marriage equality suggest that the act is a victory for all LGBTQ people to celebrate and endorse. This production adds a level of nuance to that narrative, suggesting that if we lived in a world where marriage was equal from the very beginning, we might be able to have more honest thoughts about it.
“I’m very proud of the fact that the show is talking about love without a restrictive heteronomative lens and gets down to the soul of the subject matter — love,” says director Peter Reynolds. “We are able to see characters show emotions and traits that are human to us all and watch them work together to find resolve.”
What stood out during the show was the relationship between the characters Henriette (played by David Reece Hutchinson) and his straight mother and father (played by Snow and Matt Tallman). “It was very important to keep the mother in the production played by a woman,” says Reynolds. “I thought it was powerful to have this positive imagery of a straight couple supporting their gay son in a world where same-sex relationships are commonplace.”
You can still experience this incredible production that stands to challenge our understand of current issues and timeless follies at The Latvian Society now through February 21st. You get more details at their Mauckingbird’s official site.