The staged reading of the 1798 Elizabeth Inchbald play Lovers' Vows at the Colgate Bookstore in Hamilton on Saturday, February 13, was a highly enjoyable event for cast and audience alike. Members of the Colgate Jane Austen Book Club and JASNA Syracuse (there is some happy overlap between these two groups!), plus several brave members of the local public, read the roles.
Heather Elia played the tragically wronged heroine, Agatha Friburg, with suitable gasps, moans, and swoons. Karen Kawa was brave and martial as Agatha's illegitimate son, Frederick, and Clara Lantz played Agatha's repentant seducer and Frederick's father, Baron Wildenhaim. Nadia Vedder was a properly pert Amelia, the Baron's legitimate daughter; Theodore Ayoub III played the clergyman Anhalt, Amelia's former tutor and present object of affection, who also assists in resolving Agatha's and the Baron's dilemma. Among the minor characters, Deborah Knuth Klenck distinguished herself in all the roles Tom Bertram plans to enact in the Mansfield Park production of the play, particularly the Cottager and the rhyming butler, Verdun. Signe Weaver also provided comic relief as Cottager's Wife, and three courageous members of the audience (April, Clarence, and a gentleman whose name your Regional Coordinator didn't catch) took on several minor roles in Act I at very short notice. Finally, yours truly (A. Marie Sprayberry) played Count Cassel, Amelia's conceited, foppish suitor.
Below, Anhalt describes the nature of good versus bad marriage to Amelia. (A local daughter and mother, members of the audience, look on at right.)
Next, Agatha prepares to spurn a purse of gold sent by the Baron to relieve her financial distress (she misinterprets it as an attempt to buy her off). Three dollars' worth of pennies tied up in a cloth napkin makes a very satisfactory "thunk" when it hits the floor, incidentally! Frederick is at right.
Finally, Cottager's Wife and Cottager debate the propriety of accepting the gold. (The practicality of Cottager's Wife carries the day!)
And for those of us who just can't get enough Austen-related acting this month, remember that JASNA Rochester will be doing a reading of "The Trial of William Walter Elliot" from the JASNA Script Bank this coming Saturday, February 20 (see "Events" at right for details).
P.S. The Colgate student newspaper has also reviewed the presentation (http://www.maroon-news.com/austen-fans-act-out-1.1163939). And Deborah Knuth Klenck has identified the helpful spectator who played the Countryman in Act I as E. Adger Williams.