"The Rover" by Thinking Cap Theatre

From left, Noah Levine, Mickey Jaiven and Scott Douglas Wilson star in "The Rover." (Nicole Stoddard / February 13, 2013)

“The Rover” is a sex romp from the Restoration Era (1660-1710). But you’d never know it the way Thinking Cap Theatre has staged it at Empire Stage.

The wacky whirl of masked flirtations, mistaken identities, love triangles and the threat of rape (“pox” “fie” and “I am undone” just about covers it) as English men vacation in Naples during Carnival was written by Aphra Behn, England’s first professional female playwright.

This adaptation by director Nicole Stodard, for the most part, stays true to the script even though she can’t resist a little Monty-Python/Mel Brooks mash-up every now and then. She and her design team have wisely bathed the whole production in now-ness (the Brit-chic, neo-punk costumes in particular look like a Vivienne Westwood runway show).

During the marathon performance of two hours with a 15-minute intermission (a good 20 minutes could be shaved off), the cast works in modern shtick: lucha-libre wrestling, hand puppets, “West Side Story” rumbling and old Saturday morning cartoons…amid a lot of back-slapping and vulgar pelvic thrusts.


Pictures: Hollywood Beach Broadwalk

Of course, some actors handle the reams and reams of dialogue – as well as the language’s cadence and musicality – better (e.g., Scott Douglas Wilson as the title character and Lela Elam as a courtesan), but what do you want from a work that’s 336 years old?

“The Rover” will run through March 3 at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Drive, in Fort Lauderdale. Shows are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. matinee Saturdays and 5 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $35 for adults, $30 for seniors and military and $20 for students. Call 813-220-1546 or go to ThinkingCapTheatre.com.