One of the most popular comedies of 17th century England, The Lucky Chance is rarely staged today, but New York's Jean Cocteau Repertory's current revival of the piece, which opened Nov. 24, has been popular to extend its engagement to Feb. 28, three weeks past its original Feb. 9 closing date.
Restoration playwright Aphra Behn (1640-89) was the first professional woman writer in English. Best known for The Rover and the novel "Oroonoko," Behn often satirized the battle of the sexes. She was a spy for Charles II in Antwerp and became a writer to avoid destitution. When Charles made it OK for women to play women on stage, theatre's discovered a new-found sexuality and appreciated Behn's frank situations and provocations. Her plays criticized forced marriages, parental authority and social injustice.
In Lucky Chance, two male merchants use their commercial power to buy brides. The young people try to duck the arrangement via disguises, tricks and foiled consummations.
Making her Cocteau Rep debut is director Kathryn Long, former associate artistic director for both Studio Arena Theatre and American Players Theatre. She's directed at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, PlayMakers' Rep and DC's Studio Theatre.
Appearing in Chance are Rep regulars Molly Pietz, Kennedy Brown, Elise Stone, Craig Smith, Joseph Menino and Abner Genece, along with Christopher Black, Amy Fitts, Patrick Hall, Will Leckie and Neeraj Kochhar. The set is by Mary Myers, lighting by Brian Aldous, costumes by Susan Soetaert. Ginger Thatcher choreographed; Ellen Mandel composed the music and designed the sound. For tickets ($24) and information on The Lucky Chance -- which runs in repertory with Joe Orton's What The Butler Saw and Pirandello's Six Characters In Search Of An Author -- call (212) 677-0060.
-- By David Lefkowitz