‘The Alchemist’ in Madison
By BILL NUTT | The Daily Record
P.T. Barnum was right. Apparently, there really was a sucker born every minute, even 400 years ago.
In the 1610 comedy “The Alchemist,” playwright Ben Jonson wrote about upper-class Londoners who fall for get-rich-quick scams perpetuated by three con artists. The ruses center on the legendary philosopher’s stone, which could turn lead into gold.
Substitute “Ponzi scheme” for “philosopher’s stone,” and you’ve got a story that could easily take place in 21st century Manhattan, rather than 17th century London. Click here to read more.
BWW Interview: AEDIN MOLONEY in 'The Alchemist' at The Shakespeare Theatre of NJ
By MARINA KENNEDY | BroadwayWorld
Aedin Moloney returns to The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) this season in Ben Jonson's, The Alchemistdirected by Bonnie Monte. Moloney starred last season as George Elliot in the theatre's world premiere production of A Most Dangerous Woman and she received the New Jersey Footlights Best Actress Award. Moloney is founder and producing artistic director of New York's Fallen Angel Theatre Company. Her recent New York City credits include starring alongside Peter Gerety and Dana Ivey in Dubliners by Arthur Yorinks for WNYC Radio. We had an opportunity to interview Moloney about her career and the upcoming show. Click here to read more.
A Funny Mix of Old and New
By TERRY TEACHOUT | The Wall Street Journal
Ben Jonson, Shakespeare's great contemporary, is well remembered and frequently performed in England, but he's only a name—if that—to the average American theatergoer. "The Alchemist," by common consent the best of his verse comedies, doesn't seem to have received a major production over here since Washington's Shakespeare Theatre Company gave it a poorly received modern-dress revival in 2009. It's not hard to see why, either. Not only is an uncut performance of "The Alchemist" about four hours long, but Jonson's flamboyantly archaic diction ("Thou look'st like antichrist, in that lewd hat") is often more challenging to modern audiences than anything you're likely to stumble across in Shakespeare.
For these reasons, Bonnie J. Monte's brand-new adaptation of Jonson's 1610 tale of a trio of unscrupulous London con persons, which is currently being performed by the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, is of obvious interest. More on the text in a moment, but the bottom line is that it works, and that Ms. Monte, the company's artistic director, has treated "The Alchemist" to a staging whose frank bawdiness and knockabout comic vigor are tremendously appealing. Click here to read more.
'The Alchemist' conjures colorful characters at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
By RONNI REICH | The Star Ledger
The stage at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey these days looks like it could be the site of a parade for superheroes or villains.
Vibrant characters are entering a door one after another bearing names that define their personalities, such as Pliant, Wholesome and Surly.
The occasion is "The Alchemist," written by Shakespeare contemporary Ben Jonson, adapted and directed by artistic director Bonnie J. Monte. It's the second play this summer with which Monte has taken liberties, following Shakespeare's "The Tempest," again showing a remarkable instinct to preserve essential content and style. Click here to read more.
A CurtainUp New Jersey Review: The Alchemist
By C.W. WALKER | The Daily Record
Back in 1610, a London theatergoer who had a choice between two new plays, “Cymbeline” by William Shakespeare and “The Alchemist” by Ben Jonson, might very well have chosen the latter. After all, Cymbeline is kind of a mess, packed with unlikely coincidences, while “The Alchemist” is sly satire that runs like a well-oiled machine.
Ten years younger than Shakespeare, Jonson was then at the height of his creative powers and popularity. Even today, the story of three con artists running elaborate scams on a variety of gullible folk by exploiting their pride, greed and lusts makes perfect sense. Click here to read more.
The Alchemist opens at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
By LIZ KEILL | The Alternative Press
A little malicious deception goes a long way. That’s the outrageous plot line of Ben Jonson’s “The Alchemist.”
This convoluted tale is performed with gusto under the smooth direction of Bonnie Monte. With disguises, exaggeration and pretension, we more or less follow Subtle (Bruce Cromer) and Face(Jon Barker) as they cook up potent chemicals and witchcraft to convince a variety of people that they can turn practically any metal into gold. Click here to read more.
A CurtainUp New Jersey Review: The Alchemist
By SIMON SALTZMAN | CurtainUp
There has to be some reason why Ben Jonson's bawdy 17th century satire has escaped me either reading it or seeing it produced in the Metropolitan area in my memory. Therefore the production now at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is a long-awaited and overdue treat, one that is sure to delight receptive audiences eager to discover a rare treasure.
Lack of familiarity with this acknowledged classic should actually enhance your pleasure, as it did mine. The important thing to know is that you will laugh long and hard at this riotous staging and the terrific, over-the-top performances under the direction of Bonnie J. Monte. Click here to read more.
STNJ’s “Alchemist” is Pure Gold
By SHERRI RASE | QOnStage
Bonnie Monte’s sparkling adaptation of Ben Jonson’s “The Alchemist” is more than 500 years in the making. Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) proves, once again, that in half a millennium, it’s only time that changes, not people. Monte’s expert vision and direction make for an evening of wit and dazzle that is the perfect antidote to the dog days of August.
The home of Lovewit (John Ahlin) is the scene of our crimes-to-be. While Lovewit’s away avoiding the Plague like the plague, his servant Jeremy (Jon Barker) takes an alias of Captain Face and, in collusion with Subtle (Bruce Cromer) and Dol Common (Aedin Moloney), leads the denizens of Blackfriars on a merry chase. Click here to read more.
BWW Reviews: THE ALCHEMIST at STNJ; This Rarely Produced Show Shines on the Madison Stage
By MARINA KENNEDY | Broadway World
The world's turned Bedlam" - Ben Jonson
The Alchemist is a truly magical piece of theater, for more reasons than the name implies. This wholly entertaining, raucous show is now onstage at The Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey (STNJ) and we suggest that you get your tickets now as it is sure to bring the theatre large audiences. Written by Ben Jonson, it was first performed in 1610. Considered his most renowned piece, the themes are as timely today as they were centuries ago. Greed, human folly and vanity are all a part of this delightful production. Click here to read more.
REVIEW: STNJ MOUNTS SPARKLING PRODUCTION OF CLASSIC COMEDY
By RUTH ROSS | NJ Arts Maven
Remember the 2013 award-winning comedy drama filmAmerican Hustle, wherein two con artists are forced by an FBI agent to set up an elaborate sting operation—called in the press "Abscam"—to net corrupt politicians, including the mayor of Camden and New Jersey senator Clifford Case, only to get ripped-off themselves? Think that was the quintessential scam case?
Well, think again: in 1610, the Elizabethan playwright (and Shakespeare's contemporary) Ben Jonson penned The Alchemist, a boisterous study of con artists at work in plague-ridden London, making money off the gullible by claiming to have the Philosopher's Stone, a magical charm that supposedly was able to turn base metal into the noble metals of gold and silver. Click here to read more.
Review: Zany Comedy ‘The Alchemist’ at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
By RICK BUSCIGLIO | NJ Footlights
Madcap comedy opens at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey...think a cross of 'Kind Hearts and Coronets' and 'Noises Off, with a heavy dose of the Marx Brothers at their zaniest.
The play is the rarely produced bawdy satire The Alchemist by Ben Jonson. Jonson was a 17th century contemporary of William Shakespeare. The play is an adaptation by director Bonnie J. Monte (STNJ's Artistic Director). In its original form, The Alchemist is a bit of a marathon event running well over four hours long, Monte has reworked the plot to a still robust 2 hours and forty-five minutes (excluding one intermission). Her remarkable effort required hundreds of cuts and word changes, plus deleted minor characters andlocations. The result is outstanding theater. Click here to read more.
NJ Shakespeare Theatre Stages Bawdy 1610 Ben Jonson Farce; “The Alchemist” Exposes Greed, Lust, Con Men, and Their Dupes
By DONALD GILPIN | Town Topics
“O Rare Ben Jonson!” reads the epitaph on the tomb, in London’s Westminster Abbey, of the great Elizabethan and Jacobean poet and playwright. Though Jonson is considered, along with Shakespeare, to be one of the two towering figures of English Renaissance drama, his “rarity” is most clearly manifested today in the unlikelihood of anyone reading or producing his plays.
Undaunted, Bonnie Monte, New Jersey Shakespeare Theatre’s artistic director, has painstakingly and lovingly adapted and staged Mr. Jonson’sThe Alchemist (1610), a wild, irreverent satiric comedy, one of his two most famous plays (along with Volpone from 1605). Even in this streamlined, artfully directed, skillfully acted, impressively fine and funny production, the reasons why you may never have had an opportunity to see a Ben Jonson play are obvious. Click here to read more.
“The Alchemist” explores human frailties at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre
By RALPH MALACHOWSKI | Out In Jersey
Get-rich-quick schemes. Have the inside edge at gambling. The wealthy wish to be even wealthier. Lust and greed run rampant. Are these headlines from today’s newspaper? Well, they are as relevant today as they were in 1610, when Ben Johnson wrote his social satire, “The Alchemist.”
Sadly, human nature has changed little in four-hundred years, according to this play presented by the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey until August 31 in Madison. Director Bonnie J. Monte has adapted the Johnson work, “streamlining” it for modern audiences. Click here to read more.