Capital Fringe Review: ‘In the Company of De Sade’ by Amanda Gunther

In The Company of De Sade presented by the King’s Players at the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival is the show to see if you can only see one. It is well composed; thoroughly outlined with an actual plot that moves forward to a conclusion, with real and talented actors moving it along, and a good solid director putting vision into the work. The show is gritty and deep, with explicitly foul language and heavy subject matter that is not suitable for younger audiences, the easily offended, or prudes.

The cast of 'In the Company of De Sade.' Photo by Jacinda Bronaugh.

Playwright and Director Timothy R. King has a brilliant vision that he brings to life on the stage in this play and it encompasses a world of themes and ideas. The play tackles the cutting edge controversy of “how far is too far” in the world of the theatre. Attempting to mount a fully nude and live-sex production of De Sade’s Philosophy In The Bedroom is the premise for the show. King does not,  however, get caught up in the trap of forcing the actors to be naked. He tackles the issues of what challenges might arise in such a situation without falling victim to the distractions actual nudity could cause.

The actors are the most talented group of people that I’ve encountered at the festival and really make the show enjoyable. Sara Joy Lebowitz as the sassy and demanding Francoise captivates the audience with her edgy harsh attitude, driving the other players in the role of ‘director.’ She has a cut-throat energy about her that makes you love and hate her in every scene. This pairs brilliantly against the meek and meager Terri (Brittany Morgan) who is reserved, and mortified in regards to the whole idea of live sex as theatre. Morgan portrays her character as the actor we all don’t want to be; the one that breaks down and cracks under pressure, the one we all gawk at and silently thank the gods we didn’t crack first. It’s a stunning moment to watch when she breaks down, and is utterly raw and convincing beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Each actor grounds their characters in little truths of their personal life; which makes the real issues of theatre as a sinking vessel in today’s society that much more relevant. The men (Daniel Rovin, Anthony Carchietta, and Mitch Irzinski) each bring a special flavor to the mix, adding layers to the show. Rovin brings his unique street slang and character’s potential homophobia to stir up the controversy of same-gender sexual contact while Irzinski brings his ability to captivate the audience with fascinating stories. But it’s Carchietta as Marlon, deeply twisted into the madness of actually becoming De Sade, that is the most interesting nut of the bunch.

Let’s not forget scene stealer Alexia Poe, playing Maggie, a middle woman, who may not seem purposeful, but really presents us with a raw character that adds her quirks here and there to help drive the show. While the show does a few sluggish moments, ultimately with little conflicts between Poe and Lebowitz, or vLebowtiz and virtually everyone else, it moves along to a fantastically deep and meaningful climax.

This play is a slap in the face for most – frightening and exciting and new but it’s a huge wake-up call to those that want to see the real issues and boundaries and borderlines pushed in the theatre today. It’s energetic, and fresh, and full of humorously dark moments that are rich with sexual content. So don’t let this play slip away beneath the briny foam of the other 133 shows washed ashore at The Festival.


For more information about the show and to purchase tickets, please go to our Fringe Preview.


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