Rodney Lee Rogers: The gentleman actor

Leave it to Rodney Lee Rogers to offer pirates and serve Shakespeare.  Rogers' play, based on the trial of The Gentleman Pirate Stede Bonnet,opens with a world-weary Gentleman covering Hamlet's famous soliloquy, "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow [...]," and so unfolds the tale, told by no idiot, full  of sound and fury.  

Rogers ably struts and frets every personage from Gentleman to Jack Tar to Cross Dresser to Sociopath, in a range of gaits and dialects, in a well-researched rendering of the story of a pirate execution in Charleston.  This is not, however, a kitschy period piece.  The actor strays into modern commentary, gives propers to the art/life paradigm, recounts from various points of view, and gives the audience a role, as Jury.  

I always love Pure's minimal approach to set and costume, just enough to propel the imagination to supply the rest. Kids do this all the time, and seemed to enjoy the play despite its complex language.  The donning or doffing of a coat or vest indicates a new speaker, a scene change is provided by moving the audience outside, and a battleship is indicated when a boy is given a flag.  In the charactor of a crippled Jack Tar, Rogers sketches a stagger, which he has to abandon as he rushes to enact a battle scene, but returns to occasionally to remind us who is speaking.

A historic adventure story in the historic Powder Magazine, The Gentleman Pirate  is head and shoulders above the usual docent tour, signifying nothing but the perennial human tragedy of bad choices.  

You can see a great set of stills from Rogers's performance on Flick.

Filed in