Review: The Rover

The Rover; 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; $10-$20. Big Idea Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Boulevard; (916) 804-6923; Through May 28.
Rated 4.0

Playwright Aphra Behn, born in the early 1640s, is regarded as England’s first professional female playwright. She knew and used all the stock characters, plots and tropes as William Shakespeare, who preceded her, but with a difference.

Behn was, arguably, a feminist and her female characters were wise and wily in ways Shakespeare’s weren’t always. But just because Behn was a woman didn’t mean she couldn’t be ribald or raucous—as she certainly is in The Rover, now on stage at Big Idea Theatre.

The Rover tells the tale of two sisters—Florinda (Shelby Saumier), who is bound to wed a rich older merchant she doesn’t love, and Hellena (Nina Dramer), who is bound for life in a convent. The two are determined to experience life and love on their own terms, however, and that’s what they do, escaping to Naples during Carnival, where they encounter a bunch of rambunctious rascals and where disguises, duels and debauchery reign, until all’s well that ends well.

Gail Dartez directs, with swiftness and sureness, a large cast that includes: handsome Zachary Scovel as the suitor Belville; the more-than-likable Ian Hopps as the charming rogue Wilmore; elegant Eric Craig as the sisters’ patriarchal brother Don Pedro; and hilarious Paj Crank as Ned Blunt, who is “not an ass to be laughed at.” Except when he is.