by Doug DeVita
In the alternate London of 1820 during the reign of King Stanley V8, Elinor and Marianne Wood, the illegitimate daughters of Sir Henry Dashwood and his cook, have become Nell Dash and Nance. They find themselves whirling up against Fagin, The Artful Dodger, Miss Havisham, Celia and Polly Peachum, and a barber named Todd, among many others. Their vile half-sister-in-law, Lady Fanny Ferrars Dashwood, stops at nothing to keep them from getting a single penny of the fortunes accrued from the Dashwood Meat Packing Empire whilst at the same time tries to attain the two strands of pearls given the girls when they fled Devonshire years before, pearls which have mysteriously disappeared and have a strange history of their own.
- Cast Size: 4M 4W 1GN
- Running Time: 90+ minutes
- Royalty Rate: $75 per performance
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This is what happens when Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the Marx Brothers team up with the company putting on “Noises Off” and decide to do up some real English-flavored theatre. Nothing is left to chance, so brace yourself for Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, the Bronte brood, The Beggars’ Opera, penny-dreadfuls, Sweeney Todd, and references to all of them and beyond. It’s a madcap overflowing treacle tart of confection and affection for this grand dame of questionable morals and origins and just bloody fun. You will savor every morsel, but leave some pearls for the dog.
I had the great good fortune of seeing a production of this exquisite work. Mr. DeVita was in attendance as well. You know you have a hit on your hands when you see an ensemble of actors pulling out every last stop to honor the dialogue, characters and story. DeVita is one of the smartest (and most shameless) playwrights I know. You do not have to be a fan of 19th Century British Literature to enjoy it, but rest assured if you are that type of nerd, you are in for the biggest treat of your life. Absolutely joyful!
This utterly bonkers romp throws characters and plots from 19th Century BritLit into a meat grinder — Sense and Sensibility, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and Sweeney Todd, to name but a few — and manages to turn out something not only coherent but balls-out hilarious! The endless pile-on of plot twists, coincidences, complications, and revelations are made all the more delightful by how entirely aware DeVita is of what he’s doing — and lest it get all too literary, he’s not above indulging in some of the cheapest gags and wordplay I’ve ever been ashamed to guffaw at. A hoot.
I was in the mad joyride of the first production of Nell Dash, playing the multiple roles of Celia Peachum/Miss Pross (who loves her gin) and the one-eyed Wackford Squeers (who loves Estella, the “pretty little thing”). This play takes off like a runner’s marathon and has the audience laughing and gasping until the final dash across the finish line.
I had the great good fortune of playing “Lady Fanny Dashwood” in the first production of this hilarious play, and it was a joyful experience from start to finish. (And the fun continued even *after* the production closed, because the festival nominated me in the Best Actress category, and I got to perform one of my scenes all over again at the awards ceremony!) Doug DeVita knows how to take the piss out of Brit Lit like nobody’s business. The references come fast and furious, which of course will delight all bibliophiles, but the magic part is that the script is so funny that it doesn’t even matter if you don’t know the various works being lampooned – as was demonstrated by the fact that my husband thought the show was a laugh riot, even though he wouldn’t know the difference between “Miss Havisham” and “Mrs. Lovett.”
A rollicking ride for actors and audiences, a merry mix-up of genres and characters. Exhilarating for the actors (one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done), and it’s constructed so that both the English major who gets all the references and the person who hasn’t read a book since high school will enjoy all the characters, setups, wordplays, and crackerjack comedy. A recent play that plays like a classic, it’s a unlike anything you’ve seen.
I had great expectations for this play and it did not disappoint. It’s a tasty minced pie of a penny dreadful made up of ingredients ground together from large chunks of Dickens, smaller bits of Austen and Brecht, leavening by Sondheim and Bart, and a mysterious seasoning only revealed at the very end, all of it wrapped up in DeVita’s erudite, wicked, shameless sense of humor. There are lines that literally and literarily had me gasping in delight. Reader and audiences alike are sure to Lovett.
…and this dizzyingly hilarious play mashes up a lot of them. How many? I can’t tell you because I lost count! But it doesn’t matter because this amazingly funny spoof keeps tearing along delivering laughs and surprises page after page. I’ll never pick up Dickens, or Austen or John Gay or listen to Stephen Sondheim or Lionel Bart without a chuckle or ten. Hysterical on the page. Gut-busting on the stage!
It’s like TOM JONES on acid!!!
A shameless romp filled with literary mashups, diabolical intrigue, and inspired silliness, it’s as though a deranged madman took an English lit syllabus hostage and had his way with it!
Having seen two productions of it, it’s a treat for audiences, actors, and oh my DESIGNERS! Following the labyrinthine plot while tracking the literary references is just part of the fun. The story stands on its own and marches forth proudly as a testament to melodrama!
Review Nell Dash.