Poor Nina von Schliess (Kerry Fitzgibbons). The Baron von Schliess, her dad, has just died and she is left holding the sword so to speak. She is the rightful heir or heiress if you will. And the Savages are invading. Only in 10th century Germania where this epic poem of a play, The Sword Politik, takes place on stage at the Dorothy Streslin Theatre (312 West 36th Street) women could not bear arms, nor be in control of their lives. A forceful, competent male has to be found for Nina. She must be married to him so that he can protect the Barony. She will lose all control. And so all those suitors available, fight for her hand (literally) and for control of The Sword Politik.
Among those are: Ulrich Nachtenzeit (Jon Crefeld) who vows he will marry Nina and save the Barony. Otto von Brochol (Billy Weimer) who has Nina writhing on the floor in chains, kicking and stomping our heroine and wanting full control. Maximillian von Murligstein (Paul Bellantoni) a sort of Sir Lancelot. Nina is torn between Ulrich and Max’s castle. She does try to gypsy dance her way to safety and tries her best to negotiate and to wield a sword but she is just a woman after all.
This ultra complicated Medieval tale (the names alone are an earful) written by Jon Crefeld who also stars as the besotted and vengeful Ulrich is best described as heavy handed – except for the incredibly good fights and swordplay staged by Michael Hagins very ably performed by the Blackguard (Ryan McCabe). However, I thought at times that I might just be decapitated if one of those weapons flew off into the very close quarters. Director Jon Ciccarelli tries his best to clarify but due to the story line that is a lot to ask for.
The dialogue is a cross of modern jargon and rhymed soliloquies where a very serious speech can be followed by “and away we go”. Unintentional humor is rampant. One wonders if this is really meant to be serious or a satire on those types of cult films where everyone is vying for power and poison and intrigue, death and disguises are the plat du jour. We are told over and over that “the world is a terrible place to live” and that “the Duke is coming” and that the “wilderness” is what poor Dirk von Schliess (Patrick Long) cousin to Nina von Schliess, who has a significant hawk hand signal, has to endure.
Well, we all have our crosses to bear, especially we critics. Likewise Katherine McDonald who is called upon to portray Madame von Brochol, a witch and Oaf. Two of the better aspects of The Sword Politik are the actresses that play a variety of roles both male and female who bring on some very needed comic relief: Bethany James and Sharon Hunter. At least they get to laugh at the proceedings while we have to sit there transfixed, trying to figure out who is who and what is what.