Capital Fringe 2014 Preview: ‘Isis and Vesco Investigate the Curious Death of Dr. Freud’ by Catherine Aselford

Mary Washington Drama Prof Finds New Challenge in Fringe Show

Cate Brewer, a lecturer in theatre at the University of Mary Washington, is spending her summer being treated like a goddess. At least when working on her current project — portraying Isis in the world premiere of Isis and Vesco Investigate the Curious Death of Dr. Freud, which will debut at the Capital Fringe Festival in July. Carl Brandt Long (who helmed last year’s Fringe hit Tell-Tale) is directing, with Sun King Davis as Vesco and Terence Aselford as Dr. Freud.

Sun King Davis (Vesco) and Cate Brewer (Isis). Photo by Suzanne Parisi.
Sun King Davis (Vesco) and Cate Brewer (Isis). Photo by Suzanne Parisi.

In the play, the Ancient Egyptian goddess Isis joins the modern day NYPD.  Isis is looking to learn a little something about vengeance. Her brother-in-law, Seth, has attacked and maimed her husband, and Isis feels it’s her duty to exact justice. But she’s not quite sure how to do that, and what better way to figure it all out than by helping out crime victims in the Big Apple? But she gets more than she bargained for when the FBI calls in a favor and Isis gets stuck babysitting rogue financier Robert Vesco (the Madoff of the 1970s). Vesco’s a cad and a lawbreaker. Isis is a law enforcement officer and a goddess. And, of course, opposites attract.

Brewer was attracted to the role from the first time she read the script, “It’s rare to get to play a female character that has agency on her own, but is also juxtaposed against a male character that has a strong drive. Isis and Vesco have a bit of a ‘merry war’ going on from the start, each trying to best the other.” Brewer also gets to explore a variety of emotions, for the play touches on some deeper, universal themes — like love, duty, betrayal, and death. There is also an important duality for Brewer to balance, that of Isis as Goddess and that of Isis as earthly being. Brewer also likes that the script is grounded in fact, “every character is true to his or her actual reality, but then each is dropped into a completely different world from the one they are used to.”

Brewer also notes that the play “offers something for everyone: spies, a love story, comedy, scandal, and murder.” Says Brewer, “How can you go wrong with that?” Indeed, Isis and Vesco takes various genres (classical theater, spy thrillers, and the “will they, won’t they” police procedural) and characters from various time periods (Isis and Osiris from Ancient Egypt, Vesco from the 1970s, a Victorian era Dr. Freud, a medical examiner from present day New York City) and blends them together to challenge not only the elements of the genres, but the characters themselves.

Brewer points out that the play, while set in New York, is firmly grounded in DC. Brewer says, “Not only am I a DC native, but Catherine [Aselford, the play’s producer] was also born and raised here. The show is uniquely local for a uniquely local event.” Aselford founded DC-based Guillotine Theatre in 1986, when little classical theater was being produced in the area.  As more theaters began exploring classical works, Guillotine expanded its mission to include new works based on historical figures and classical themes. The Company has produced retellings of Ubu Roi and The Three Musketeers and new works based on the lives of characters as diverse as Jack the Ripper and Beatrice Cenci. Says Aselford, “this play is a perfect fit for Guillotine as it has beautiful, elevated language and poetry, a fascinating mashup of genres, a compelling story, and intellectual whimsy, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

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The Redrum – 612 L St, NW, in Washington, DC 20001.

Saturday, July 12th @ 9:30 pm

Friday, July 18th @ 6 pm

Sunday, July 20th @ 1:30 pm

Thursday, July 24th @ 7:45 pm

Saturday, July 26th @ 4 pm





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