Or, takes place (mostly) during one night in the life of Aphra Behn, poet, spy, and soon to be first professional female playwright. Sprung from debtors’ prison after a disastrous overseas mission, Aphra is desperate to get out of the spy trade. She has a shot at a production at one of only two London companies, if she can only finish her play by morning despite interruptions from sudden new love, actress Nell Gwynne; complicated royal love, King Charles II; and very dodgy ex-love, double-agent William Scott—who may be in on a plot to murder the king in the morning. Can Aphra save Charles’ life, win William a pardon, resist Nell’s charms, and launch her career, all in one night? Against a background of a long drawn-out war and a counter-culture of free love, cross-dressing, and pastoral lyricism, the 1660s look a lot like the 1960s in this neo-Restoration comedy from the playwright the San Francisco Bay Guardian called “an artist of playful and highly literate imagination, radical instincts, and sardonic but generous humor.”
Published and licensed by Dramatists Play Service; contact for acting editions or performance rights.
Also published by Smith & Kraus in New Playwrights: Best Plays 2010.
Click here to see Seattle Repertory Theater's 1-minute promotional trailer.
^ Women's Project premiere. Directed by Wendy McClellan. Set: Zane Pihlstom; costumes: Andrea Lauer; lights: Deb Sullivan. Cast: Maggie Siff, Andy Paris, Kelly Hutchinson. Photographer: Carol Rosegg
Magic Theater production. Directed by Loretta Greco. Set Michael Locher, costumes Alex Jaeger, lights York Kennedy. Cast Natacha Roi, Ben Huber, Maggie Mason. Photographer: Jennifer Reiley.
In the Press
“Luminaries of 17th-century England are resurrected and made to do the frug in Or, a playful, funny and inventive comedy by Liz Duffy Adams… Tom Stoppard is the most celebrated contemporary playwright to compose history-based fictions that occasionally take liberties with the facts. Many have tried to emulate the formula in his heady wake; most have sunk under the challenge... Ms. Adams fares remarkably well. Her language has a natural period flavor and a formidable wit; her characters possess the spark of fully animated spirits; and she weaves into her story both biographical detail and cultural context with grace.” –Charles Isherwood, New York Times. Click here for full review.
“Adams’s historical play celebrates not only Behn’s pioneering career, which Virginia Woolf famously memorialized in A Room of One’s Own (‘All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn’), but also the side of the writer’s tumultuous life that Woolf dismissed as ‘shady and amorous.’ [Adams] has written an Aphra-disiac valentine, not a stodgy bio-play.”—Rob Weinert-Kendt, TimeOut New York. Click here for full article.
“[Or, is] a bawdy, hilarious and whip-smart literary sex comedy that turns into a door-slamming quick-change farce. I’ve been a fan of Adams’s work for some time, and for pure entertainment value this may be my favorite thing of hers I’ve seen to date. Adams has a particular talent and relish for playing with language in her plays, making up entire futuristic dialects for Dog Act and The Listener. The way she mixes contemporary language with Restoration period touches in Or, is a delight. …While Adams celebrates theatrical conventions throughout this tribute to the first lady of the theater, she also uses them to set up expectations just to upturn them to uproarious effect. It’s a comedy tailor-made for theater people, but also for anyone who loves literature, love, laughter, or what you will.” –Sam Hurwitt, The Ideologue. Click here for full review.
One of the considerable beauties of Liz Duffy Adams’ hilarious Or, which opened Wednesday at Magic Theatre, is the effortless acuity with which time periods are layered upon each other… Adams, best known for Dog Act and other fiercely comic, post-apocalyptic sci-fi efforts, took on something radically different in the play that opened to raves last year at New York’s Women's Project. Or, - the comma is part of the title for several good reasons - is a historical play, not only about historical figures but also written as a Restoration comedy, crossed with a door-slamming farce... Hope prevails, in great waves of laughter. The darker strains beyond Behn’s writing chamber only reinforce the dedication to change. After the recent elections, we can all use a play like this.” –Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle. Click here for full review.