THE CLINK, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church. Stephen Jeffreys's poetic, word-heavy play is about life in the last days of the reign of Elizabeth I. And I can't think of a worse place to stage it than the huge sanctuary of the Holy Covenant United Methodist Church, whose muddy acoustics swallow whole sections of the play, much of it written in a kind of mock Shakespearean prose. Actors are least audible when performing in the middle of the room, under the high, arched roof, and clearest when speaking from the altar or the choir's balcony (where a dying Queen Elizabeth watches over us all). Unfortunately, Meighan Gerachis stages most of the play in the line-muddling middle of the church.

Not that this would have been a stellar production in any space. Gerachis's cast seems content to deliver only the vulgar Elizabethan comedy and wild Shakespearean violence in the script, rarely reaching its deeper notes. Even actors who usually do better, like Patrick Dollymore, can't release the power in Jeffreys's words. Even more damaging is the slow, overly respectful pace Gerachis establishes; coupled with the church's stuffiness and the muffled drone of the line readings, it makes staying awake one of this production's biggest challenges. --Jack Helbig

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