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"Dally with the Devil" at Theatre Row's Beckett Theatre

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Rachel Reiner Productions, LLC

Dally with the Devil
(Beckett Theatre Website)

By Victor L. Cahn
(Victor L. Cahn Faculty Page)

Directed by Eric Parness

Beckett Theatre
Theatre Row
(Theatre Row Website)
410 West 42nd Street

Elizabeth A. Davis, Elizabeth Norment,
Erika Rolsfrud

Set Designer: Jisun Kim
Lighting Designer: Pamela Kupper
Costume Designer: Michelle Eden Humphrey
Sound Designer/Composer: Nick Moore
Props Master: Lauren Madden
Production Stage Manager: Sean McCain
Marketing Director: Marie Reynolds
Casting Director: Stephanie Klapper
Production Manager: Nicole Godino
Technical Director: Matt Vieira
Press Representative: Joe Trentacosta, Springer Associates PR

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 14, 2011

Victor L. Cahn, an English Professor at Skidmore College, was in tonight’s audience for Opening Night of his new play, Dally with the Devil. Produced by Rachel Reiner Productions, LLC, and showcasing the three women actors, as well as showcasing women as set, costume, props, and lighting designers, as well as Production Manager and Casting Director, Dally with the Devil makes a prominent statement. This is a play about two women, whose careers depend on ambitious male politicians, and a third woman, who’s essentially juggling everyone. Nobody knows who will fall and who will succeed. The women seem in charge, while the men, all offstage, manipulate, behind the scenes, through past and current affairs, wartime embellishments, and the power of good PR. That Public Relations prowess is where the third woman comes into the mix, as she publishes, a popular political blog, that relies on well-vetted gossip and tidbits that carry extra bite. In fact, Dr. Cahn’s one-act dialogue is imbued with taut one-liners and biting sarcasm, as well as pregnant pauses and frequent witticisms. Dr. Cahn keeps the audience guessing, through deductions and inferences, just who is thinking what, and how deep these characters’ connections really lie.

Charlotte’s (Erika Rolsfrud) Cape Cod, beach house porch is the setting for the three sequential scenes, set days apart. Irene (Elizabeth Norment) arrives first, and it’s soon learned she was Charlotte’s college professor years earlier. Megan (Elizabeth A. Davis) is the second visitor to wipe sand from her shoe, and Megan, a former marine, is even more wound up, laconic, and piercing, expanding the mind game as shoes literally fall and secrets whiz like arrows. As the liquor cabinet gets busy, the women’s motives and attachments, to each other and to their politicians, loosen and bubble about like champagne. Just when one woman seems the predator, on behalf of her political boss, who craves power and its trappings, a second woman takes command of the moment, while the journalist, who pulls the strings of her press, shifts from hunter to prey. During these implosions of personas, soft ocean sounds waft about, as calming relief to the torn psychic fibers that repair and protect, as the characters strike out or negotiate terrain, in their effort to salvage their reputations and maintain their responsibilities.

Ms. Rolsfrud, as Charlotte, often uses her feet to move as fast as her thoughts, stretching on a chair, standing or lying down. Her face, like the others’, is deliberately unreadable. Ms. Norment, as Irene, is restrained, nuanced, and, at times, visibly vulnerable. Ms. Davis, as Megan, is the most riveting character, who projects both military reserve and unraveling anguish. Eric Parness directs for maximum psycho-physical clues and seamless momentum of repartee. Jisun Kim’s clapboard framed beach house sets Dr. Cahn’s play perfectly in the audience’s imagination. Michelle Eden Humphrey’s costumes jokingly glorify the colors of the flag, and Pamela Kupper’s lighting warmly wraps the characters outdoors. Nick Moore’s sound and interludes are effective to this scenario at the shore. Don’t miss Dally with the Devil. It’s a unique window into the backstage drama of media-hyped politics. Kudos to Victor L. Cahn.

Elizabeth Norment, Elizabeth Davis,
Erika Rolsfrud in Victor L. Cahn's
Dally with the Devil
Courtesy of John Kandel

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at