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TNC presents Rue by August Schulenburg, a Shakespeare-patterned comedy for our uncertain age. The title of the show is the name of its setting: an imaginary island, like Illyria in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, that intoxicates its inhabitants with the madness of desire. Like the forest of Arden in As You Like It, disguises of gender and class empower the characters to pursue those desires freely. And like A Midsummer Night's Dream, magic and fantasy create a topsy-turvy world where, for better or worse, those desires are made real. In the sinful Southern half of the island, we meet Handsome, a poor charismatic bartender; his jilted lover Pip; and the rich and powerful Boss McReis. When McReis hires Handsome as the front-man of his swankiest hotel and bans Pip from following, she goes undercover as a boy to win Handsome back. Then Candace, desperate for a child, arrives at the hotel with her unhappy husband. What follows is a farce of epic proportions, complete with slamming doors, unlikely marriages, and a nearly immaculate conception. Beyond the farcical elements, however, lurk darker themes of obsession, exploitation and regret. At its heart, Rue is about the fragility of beauty, our basic need for human contact and why we should be forgiven for chasing these so compulsively. Kelly O'Donnell directs.

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