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Greenbelt Arts Center Volpone

By • Sep 28th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Volpone, by Ben Jonson
Greenbelt Arts Center
Greenbelt Community Arts Center, Greenbelt, MD
Through October 16th
2:10 with one intermission
Reviewed September 24th, 2010

Volpone is a play by Ben Johnson. It is the story of a rich man who has no heirs and decides to have some fun making some of his wealthy neighbors think he is on his deathbed. His sidekick and the one with the real brains keeps everyone on their toes. Unfortunately one person’s virtuous act causes an extra set of headaches for Volpone and Mosca.

This was a witty satire. Everyone was so over the top ridiculous that you could not possibly take anyone seriously. Even the “serious people” were funny. Volpone (The Fox), was played by Brian Binney. He had some of the best expressions, particularly to the audience when his so called “friends” were scheming to get to his money. His quick wit and exaggerated movements were quite engaging.

Volpone’s flair for the dramatic was balanced evenly by the keen mind of his sidekick Mosca (his parasite) played by Melissa Robinson. Robinson also had lots of flair, but knew when and how to play it to get the most out of it for her. She was also quite active on stage, running to and fro during her scheming.

Volpone’s three friends: the crooked lawyer played by Paul Boymel, Corvino the vicious businessman played by Brian Moors, and Corbaccio the greedy old guy played by Stephen Cox. All three were fast talkers who did not have much to say, but delighted in their greed as they were manipulating Volpone and Mosca. Cox had an interesting makeup job. It really called attention to his features and definitely made him look older. Cox carried himself at all times with the elderly walk and talk that added humor to his character.

The set was simple and provided a nice background to all the action happening on stage. The use of narration to break down the fourth wall at times was a good use of space. One interesting note was the lighting effects. The house lights did not dim once the show started, but remained on. As explained in director Bill Jones’ notes about the play, the lights remaining on were part of the stage practice in the playwright’s day. Another aspect from Ben Jonson’s day was the use of popular music. There were many points throughout the show when a few seconds of music (such as Roy Orbison, the Sesame Street theme, and the Sound of Music) and would be played to accentuate the scene or character.

This was a fun show, performed in a style not commonly seen, and did not take itself too seriously.

A Note From the Director

Venice was the Sin City of the world around 1600; the truly enormous disparity between filthy rich and the desperate poor made Venice much worse that Las Vegas is today.

The Argument (Johnson’s poetic plot description)
Volpone, childless, rich, feigns sick, despairs,
Offers his estate to several heirs.
L ies languishing: his parasite receives;
P resents of all, assures, deludes, then weaves.
O ther plot points, which ope themselves, are told.
N ew tricks for safety are sought; they thrive; when bold
E ach tempts the other again, and all are sold.

Volpone (the name means Fox in Italian) is a rich recluse without heirs, past 50 but in reasonably good health. He is pretending to be so sick he is near death. Mosca (Italian: the Fly, i.e., the Parasite) is his servant. Mosca helps convince severl moderately rich people to frenuently give Volpone valuable gifts in the expectation that they will be sole heirs when he dies.

The names of the three main bad guys are Italian for birds that feed on carcasses: Voltare means the Vulture, Corbaccio means the Old Raven, and Corvino means the Crow.

Volpone and Mosca put into play other plots, including seducing a married woman; the plot backfires when she turns out to be too virtuous. They re in danger off going to jail, but then figure a way out. Will it work? Or will their own pride in deluding others, and their refusal to compromise, lead to their downfall?

Volone is a satiric comedy. A satire is defined as that which ridicule vice and folly, that is makes fun of knaves and fools. A comedy is defined as that which makes the audience laugh. So feel free to laugh out loud-the actors appreciate it! Bill Jones.

Photo Gallery

Katelin McMullin and Brian Binney Steve Cox and Melissa Robinson
Katelin McMullin and Brian Binney
Steve Cox and Melissa Robinson
Rachel Simms and Brian Moors Kateri Baker and Brian Binney
Rachel Simms and Brian Moors
Kateri Baker and Brian Binney
Greg Miloro and Brian Binney Paul Boymel, Kecia Campbell, and Michelle Trout
Greg Miloro and Brian Binney
Paul Boymel, Kecia Campbell, and Michelle Trout

Photos provided by the Greenbelt Arts Center.

Cast

  • Volpone (The Fox): Brian Binney
  • mosca (his parasite): Melissa Robinson
  • Andra (his concubine), Guard: Katelin McMullin
  • Voltare (crooked lawyer): paul Boymel
  • Corbaccio (greedy old guy): Stephen Cox
  • Corvino (vicious businessman): Brian Moors
  • Bonario (corbaccio’s upright son): Greg Miloro
  • Celia (Corvino’s virtuous wife): Rachel Simms
  • Lady (talkative Englishwoman): Kateri Baker
  • First Magistrate: Michelle Trout
  • Second Magistrate: kecia Campbell
  • Guard: Vinnie DeGiorgio

Crew

  • Director: Bill Jones
  • producer: Maria Silvia Miller
  • Set Design/Decoration/Painting: Bill Jones
  • Costume Design: Maria Silvia Miller
  • Stage Manager: Stephen Yednock
  • Sound Design: Bill Jones
  • Sound Tech: Jeane Binney & Kathryn Binney
  • Cover/Postcard Design: Kathryn Binney
  • Logo Design: Erin Delany

Disclaimer: Grenbelt Arts Center provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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