Androboros: Villain of the State is America’s first published play, written in 1714 by Robert Hunter, and has been adapted for modern audiences by S.M. Dale. This rare work will be performed in the historic Flag Gallery at the Museum, an intimate venue inside Lower Manhattan’s oldest landmark, built during the same decade as the play was written. Fraunces Tavern Museum will also offer audiences a site specific opportunity to view its period rooms and treasured artifacts on the way to watch the show.
In 1710, the New York colony had already suffered a slew of appalling leaders. As the new Governor, Robert Hunter was thwarted at every turn by a hostile assembly. After silently enduring this political gridlock, he later vented his frustrations by writing a clever satire to strike back at his enemies. Androboros remains a biting critique of early civic unrest when New Yorkers demonstrated little faith in their government.
Based on a true story of intrigue and crime (The Vestment Scandal of 1714), Hunter’s well-crafted work is full of witty wordplay and slapstick and scatological humor that are just as comical today. In Androboros, Hunter matches his own real life dilemma with the character of the “Keeper”, a leader stymied from governing by an obstructive congress. When one brave politician takes a stand against the deadlock, he is voted out, and the raucous majority plots to replace the Keeper with a ridiculous outsider. Enter Androboros, the villain! He joins forces with two clerical scoundrels in a plot to disgrace the Keeper by blaming him for a scatological break-in of the church vestry.
Hunter’s mix of Elizabethan comedy and Italian Commedia dell’arte are further enhanced by Peculiar Works’ unique adaptation offering 10 original songs performed live as well as dance, to cap off the merriment. More than America’s first play, Androboros exposes many surprising comparisons to the current political scene with an edgy humor that parallels today’s non-stop partisan madness.
300 years later its similarities to today’s trend against an “establishment” government or the “deep state” are simultaneously undeniable and comical. The play should also act as both a reminder and pleasant distraction from the current election season. First presented in a sold-out three-night workshop at the Overthrow Boxing Ring before last November’s election, this full run of Androboros required a completely different site-specific venue. Fraunces Tavern Museum, brings this 75 minute spectacle back to the play’s beginning.