Actors’ Theatre of Columbus will take on a fast-paced semibiographical comedy for its next performance.
“Or,” written by Liz Duffy Adams in 2010, will be performed Jan. 10 to 26 at MadLab Theatre, 227 N. Third St., in downtown Columbus.
The productions will begin at 8 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Tickets may be purchased at theactorstheatre.org.
The play begins with spy Aphra Behn’s last night in an English debtors prison, where a masked stranger rescues her.
“She wants to become a playwright,” said Rowan Winterwood, who’s making her full-length directorial debut. “She’s an actual figure in history, the first woman to earn her living as a playwright in the English language.”
Behn, a world traveler since childhood, meets a man named William who becomes a double agent against England for the Dutch during the Second Anglo-Dutch War.
In England, Behn is conscripted by the throne to turn William back into a spy for the British, so she travels to Holland.
William disappears after being seen in Antwerp with Behn, with no one knowing what truly had become of him, adding a wrinkle of intrigue to the story.
When Behn returns to England, she is thrown into debtors prison, double-crossed by her government that refused to pay for reconnaissance work.
In the meantime, Behn feels torn between her allegiance to her country and affection for two lovers and Nell Gwyn, a flirty actress.
“To me, the themes of free love and anti-war messages of the 1960s are also from the 1660s, those themes being universal themes,” Winterwood said. “We can recognize these characters from so long ago.”
Philip J. Hickman, artistic director for Actors’ Theatre, said the company continues its mission to provide theater beyond Schiller Park, where it performs its summer season.
“MadLab was a great location for 2019’s ‘Beowulf (and the Bard),’ ” Hickman said. “We enjoy the downtown location and proximity to German Village.”