East Bay audiences have seen plenty of phenomenal female performances lately, from Trish Mulholland's tough, amoral Mother Courage to J. Tiffany Holland's heartbroken Othello, Stephanie Gularte's Thérèse Raquin, and Stacy Ross' giddy Raina Petkoff. Not to mention Alyssa Bostwick's breakthrough in Scab and pretty much everything Delia MacDougall did. In such a packed field, Berkeley Rep regular Francesca Faridany pulled off a double whammy -- she adapted her own show, and then tore her way breathlessly through it, bringing Arthur Schnitzler's young, innocent Fräulein Else to life (and, incidentally, creating a rich new source of audition monologues for actresses). Faridany, who had already singed Rep audiences with her fiery Cassandra (The Oresteia) and charmed them with her witty Beatrice (Much Ado About Nothing), wasn't happy with the bowdlerized versions of Fräulein Else that she found, so she learned German and came up with her own translation. Like Cassandra, young Else is ultimately doomed; unlike her, Else is also flighty and chirpy, providing the intense Faridany with a real contrast to the characters she has played at the Rep so far.
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