Catalina is a queen, Henry VIII's first, better known to English speakers as Catherine of Aragon. Danielle Muething, as Actress #1, comes on stage in pants and knit shirt (casual costuming holds sway) to tell us what will be going on here. She explains that she is actually an actress telling the story of the unhappy queen and that it's about time that story came out because Catherine/Catalina is always given short shrift. She was married to Henry for 27 years, and surely that was a trial for any woman. Although she does mention that when they married, he in his late teens and she early twenties, he was one good-looking fella.
Before long she's interrupted by Actress #2 (Barbara Karol), who plays Anne Boleyn, a character who sees the story in a different vein and is not shy about saying so.
Actress #4 (Mindy Seibert) does all the odds and ends. Need a character? She'll play it. She muscles in where not necessarily expected, has opinions to spare and she fills the bill in a part that demands over-acting. Rowold delivers Isabella, Queen of Spain and her granddaughter Mary Tudor as vastly different individuals. Karol, as Anne Boleyn, whose life indeed has been fully covered by media then and now, is just the sort of snarky person you might expect in her dealings with the queen she supplanted. And Muething, as Catalina, projects a “Finally — I'm getting my say” satisfaction into the production.
There are some memorable pronouncements: “turned
back-slapping into an art form” and “history is made in bed, not on
battlefields” among them. Catalina is
a lively take on history and on theater, puts 16th century events into a 21st
century syntax and suggests that the woman's movement was bound to come.
PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE: 9 p.m. June 1, 8:45 p.m. June 5, 7:30 p.m. June 7 and 5:15 p.m. June 8 at Art Academy Auditorium. Find more of CityBeat's ongoing 2013 Cincy Fringe Festival coverage, including performance reviews, commentary and venue details, here.