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April 7, 2010

A Review – Sexy “Canterbury Tales”

Roy Meachum

First it should be established the Maryland Ensemble Theatre operates in the basement of what was once the Francis Scott Key Hotel. It’s possible to argue that some of the bedroom antics upstairs must have moved downstairs.


Understand, MET’s “Canterbury Tales” is not centered on sex but Director Tad Janes does not shy from the pilgrims’ raunchiness, and, in a program note, assures the audience that it was taken directly from Chaucer’s original stories of an odd-lot of women and men headed for England’s famous cathedral: It was there St. Thomas à Becket was slain by knights who hoped to gain favor with their king.


This just might be the best-acted and best-directed work I’ve ever seen from this constantly changing company. While the always professional Julie Herber, Karen Paone and Bill Stitely can be remembered from past MET shows, newcomers Joe Jalette, Moses Goldberg and Carly Lawrence furnish their enthusiasm and inordinate strength.


Adapter/player Reiner Prochaska has pulled off a marvelous script, translated into modern English; he begins with Geoffrey Chaucer’s strange language that was spoken in his time, long before the age of Shakespeare, when England still paid homage to Rome and the pope.


No religious overtones, let me reassure readers, creep into the tales of fellow travelers who are much more concerned with life’s harrows and “country matters” than God’s or the Vatican’s doings. In that era, they could not count on sticking around a long time and that made every day precious. And that’s what Chaucer captured and MET’s playwright Prochaska affirms.


“Canterbury Tales” takes bows weekends, but the pilgrims will make their final trip Saturday night April 24. Whether for culture or the most daring simulated sex I’ve ever seen on a Frederick stage, get on down the Maryland Ensemble Theatre road.


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