Calico Jack Rackham (Zach Thomas Woods) and Anne
Bonny (Alicia Rice) face off as Leah Northrop,
part of the ensemble in “Bonny Anne Bonny,”
watches the duel.
WAUWATOSA - ”Bonny Anne Bonny” by local playwright
Liz Shipe is an experience to behold. Directed by
Christopher Elst, a master director and fight
choreographer, this adventure story epitomizes the
battle between the sexes. A lot of well-executed
swordplay and a goodly share of hand-to-hand combat are
woven into the fabric of this marine tapestry. Some of
it offers some humor, and much of it some surprises.
a man want a powerful woman or one who is subservient to
him? Does a woman desire love or power or both? There is
a lot of ambivalence in this tale amid many
Bonny’s honest baring of her soul to the adolescent
Lila (Jessica Schulz) near the end of the play captures
her struggle to prove herself and still be accessible to
others. In her desire to extend her boundaries, she has
lost touch with her humanity. Women often pay a high
price when they step out of their stereotypical roles.
The conversation between Blackbeard and Calico Jack is
also very telling from the male perspective.
incredibly realistic set design by Christopher Kurtz
beautifully bespeaks the high seas. The cast is
amazingly athletic in its navigations of the ladders and
ropes and barrels. Rae Elizabeth Pare as Mary Read is
especially lithe in her movements as is Macie Laylan in
her role as the mute Magpie. Pare as Mary, Anne
Bonny’s companion, is the easiest to understand.
was frustrating at times to not understand the dialogue
because it is a rich script. Whenever there’s a
foreign dialect to deal with, it presents a challenge to
strike the balance between being true to the reality of
it but still being understood by the audience. Besides
Pare, Bryan Quinn (Biscuit) and Thomas Sebald (Captain
Pressley) were the easiest to understand.
was disappointed in Alicia Rice’s articulation. Though
she was a very strong character and amazing in her
dueling skills as Anne Bonny, she was the lead and
should have been clearer in conveying the heart of the
interesting characters people the tale: Blackbeard
(James Carrington), Heartless Jane (Liz Shipe), Iron
Jenny (Drea DeVos), Alonzo de Corazon (Sean Duncan), and
Calico Jack (Zach Thomas Woods) are especially colorful.
The duels are very exciting, and the dance between
Alonzo and Heartless is very well-executed. Duncan is
mesmerizing in his role as the histrionic, egotistic
of the drama takes place on ships. Basically Anne
Bonny’s crew is trying to capture Captain Pressley’s
prestigious British ship, mostly just to prove they can.
Much of the character revelation occurs during this
daunting conflict, especially that of Anne Bonny (Alicia
production is an amazing accomplishment for its
physicality and its underlying theme of the difficulty
of male-female relationships, which often represent an
even more imposing task than pirating. I’ll wager that
the cast enjoyed the adventure as much as we did. They
certainly brought a lot of energy and vigor to the task.
See it. You won’t forget it.
“Bonny Anne Bonny”
play, a collaborative effort between Theater Red and
Wisconsin Lutheran College, runs through Nov. 12
in the Raabe Theatre at Wisconsin Lutheran
College, 8815 W. Wisconsin Ave., Wauwatosa. Tickets can
be purchased at the door.