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THE LIBERTINE Review from LA Weekly, Friday, July 9, 1999

By Deborah Klugman

Playwright Stephen Jeffreys’ intelligent and frequently bawdy period comedy meanders through taverns, playhouses and palatial gardens in its ambitious depiction of the 17th century historic personage, the second Earl of Rochester (Kevin Kindlin). Poet-playwright Rochester whored, gamboled and guzzled his way across Restoration London, often incensing his buddy King Charles II with his scalding wit and bad boy antics.
Jeffreys’ intricate portrait presents an arrogant Rochester who’s eventually undone by gossip and his own debauchery. Though still to be polished, Kindlin’s near mastery of a difficult role buoys a piece which is weighed down by literary excess (the play runs nearly three hours) and the indispensable but sometimes difficult-to-follow period dialects. Director Gillian Bagwell’s supporting ensemble proves capable and adept, with Leda Whyte rendering an especially accomplished performance as Rochester’s long-suffering wife. Cristine Anselmo‘s performance as Elizabeth Barry, though adequate, proves the weak link: Her character as yet projects neither the inner radiance nor the intellectual and psychological complexity that would dazzle the ultraworldly Rochester. Kudos to designer Christine Walters-Murphy for her authentic and colorful costuming. Pasadena Shakespeare Company, Pasadena Plaza, Suite 296, corner of Euclid & Green aves.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Aug. 8. (626) 564-8564.

John Wilmot
John Wilmot
The Second Earl of Rochester