by John Strand
Frederic and Octavius
This “startlingly modern” tale about attempted murder and a woman’s revenge concerns a husband who discovers evidence that his wife has been unfaithful. He abandons her on a desert isle, expecting her to die. But she escapes and returns three years later disguised as a man. She manages to have herself appointed judge and promptly brings her husband to trial for the murder of his wife. Calling the play “funny, grim, superb” the Washington Post wrote: “Strand’s very free adaptation is like the best comedy, wild yet precise. He’s dared to translate Montfleury’s 17th-century poetry into 20th-century verse, and the language rollicks along from comic anachronism to melancholy aphorism.” Keeping certain conventions of the genre, such as the commedia dell’arte-inspired comedy, the play focuses on the very serious questions of justice and revenge. It features a superb leading-actress breeches role and a coup de theatre ending.