The Rover | Theater | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Aphra Behn's place in history is that she was the first woman to have made her career as a writer. The gal wrote a ton of stuff, but the only thing you know her by, if you know her at all, is her 1702 Restoration comedy The Rover. It says something that this Point Park University production is only the second one I've ever seen.

It's Carnival in Naples and two sisters are chafing against the destinies chosen for them by their father. Florinda has to pick one husband from between two men she can't stand, and Hellena has been booked into a convent. So they put on masks and go out for one last night of fun, and find a series of comic mishaps instead.

The original's about three hours long, so let's ask God to bless director John Amplas for cutting it down to a much more audience-friendly two hours and 15 minutes. And while we're supplicating, let's also ask God to bless Amplas for this sturdily built and highly entertaining production. His greatest achievement is having fashioned one playing style from this large student company -- not nearly as easy as it sounds -- and keeping the emphasis on comedy. I also give credit to Don DiFonsio's dazzling buffet of sumptuous costumes; this is a lavishly outfitted production.

Jennifer Perdue, Clare Fogerty and Mariana Dunn turn in strong, textured performances as the female leads. Jeffrey A. Dudek, Erik Cheski and Chris Cattell play the various suitors with a highly enjoyable sense of fun and a great deal of energy. Indeed, there's not an off-note in the entire cast, thanks to their individual talents and Amplas' smooth and polished direction.

The Rover continues through Oct. 22. Pittsburgh Playhouse, 222 Craft Ave., Oakland. 412-621-4445.

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