With amazing material, Jennifer Joplin is an unstoppable force. But even when the material isn’t super, she’s pretty darn good. As is the case with TYPHOID MARY, now playing at the Carnegie but under the banner of Queen City Theater who is renting the space. Director Lyle Benjamin made that clear during his curtain speech where he also promoted the other two shows in their upcoming season.
Set in the early 1900’s New York (but confusingly intermingled with dialogue and ancillary characters that speak in modern day English) we learn the story of “Typhoid” Mary Mallon. She’s was a non-symptomatic carrier of Typhoid and was accused of infecting over fifty people with the disease through her cooking career. The play by Tom Horan takes a mostly sympathetic look at this historic figure but I fear in the hands of a lesser actress she would come across more crazy than stubborn. That’s the beauty of Joplin’s work; she’s always sincere. Committed, too.
Her co-stars, Cathy Springfield and Robert Carlton Stimmel, narrate and color the story primarily as two doctors, but also as minor characters throughout the play. Springfield is at her best when she is breaking the fourth wall, telling us the story. Stimmel, besides acting in the show, also designed the lighting. There are interesting projections and sound elements from Doug Borntragger.
I caught the Sunday afternoon matinée. There were as many ushers as there were ticketed patrons . . .and there weren’t that many ushers. Joplin’s performance deserves better. And so even though the show has its faults (I’m not sure if it was a comedy, a drama, historical fiction, a tragedy, or a character study), it’s an opportunity to see one of our cities finest actresses at work.
TYPHOID MARY continues through October 8th at The Carnegie in Covington, KY. More information can be found here.