Review: 'Volpone or The Fox' a robust, merry farce

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 9, 2012 at 7:46 pm •  Published: December 9, 2012

Michael Mastro is swaggering and odious as Corvino (the Crow), an abusive merchant who jealously hides and abuses his beautiful young wife, Celia (Christina Pumariega.) Such is the level of greed here that Corvino pimps out his young wife to Volpone, despite her chaste, horrified protests, and then publicly denounces her to save his own hide.

Tovah Feldshuh is a scene-stealing, chirping harpy as Fine Madam Would-Be, swooping grandly around the stage but as easily beguiled by greed as the other three. Pumariega gives Celia a sweetly mimed air of outraged innocence; Celia's unwarranted belief that Heaven "never fails the innocent" reflects Jonson's lampooning subversion of religion. Gregory Wooddell is nobly foolish as her valiant protector, Bonario.

Adding to the light-hearted feel of this production are a trio of singing, comically-costumed, accomplished actors who play Volpone's private entertainment squad: a dwarf (Teale Sperling), a eunich (Sean Patrick Doyle) and a hermaphrodite (Alexander Sovronsky).

We'd need a time machine to blame Jonson for darkening the mood in the final scene, because he didn't forgive human foibles as generously as did Shakespeare. There are no happy endings for these mercenary characters, because Avocatore, the magistrate, (played with perfect comic gravitas and then blustering rage by Raphael Nash Thompson) is furious at being lied to.

Live music, and sumptuous costumes by Clint Ramos add to the period feel. John Arnone's grandly plain set converts easily to both Volpone's bedroom and the courtroom, the two places where his doom is sealed.

This "Volpone" is quite a merry farce, and another triumphant classic revival by Red Bull Theater.