Yes, Virginia. There is a Gandersheim. The actual town dates from 852, when Gandersheim Abbey, a house of secular canonesses, was created by Liudolf, the Duke of Saxony, and his wife, Oda. During the tenth century, Gandersheim was one of the most important towns in Saxony. So why the interest in Gandersheim? When author Elizabeth Dement came across Gandersheim, her fertile imagination flew back to medieval Germany, where the first ever female playwright may have lived. And so Roz, a resident of Gandersheim Abbey, was born.
Lauren Gaw, Jamey Hood, and Shannon Holt – Photo by Jenny Graham
The time is the tenth century, and the place is Saxony in Germany. Roz (Jamey Hood) is a widow who joined the Abbey after her husband’s death. She is also a wannabe playwright – even though women certainly do not write plays – or anything else, for that matter – in medieval Germany. But she does write a play – and gets the chance to have it performed before the Holy Roman Emperor – starring the young, innocent Madlen (Lauren Gaw), even though Theophanu (Charrell Mack), the head of the Abbey, has some misgivings about presenting a sex comedy to such a notable audience. Roz is perhaps the first female playwright in history – and she is also probably the first female playwright in history to have her play panned by the most powerful critic of her time.
Jamey Hood and Charrell Mack – Photo by Jenny Graham
Not to worry, for shortly thereafter, Roz will find herself traveling through time until she reaches contemporary Hollywood where, for a change, she is actually paid to write and has big plans for a TV series. Her excitement carries over to her good friend Mallory (Shannon Holt), who also has dreams of fame and fortune in Hollywood. But, once a time traveler, maybe always a time traveler. Where will Roz next find herself? And what of her penchant for writing and her feminist leanings? Will moving around in time make any significant changes in her life and the lives of other women?
Cast of NO PLACE LIKE GANDERSHEIM – Photo by Jenny Graham
NO PLACE LIKE GANDERSHEIM is a very creative and engrossing comic tale of a woman who just wants to write – and has her dream come true (even if it is ten centuries later). Director Randee Trabitz clearly enjoys the basic premise of the play. She has an excellent cast who each play different role at different times in history. At times, the women may become overly excited and even hysterical as the events proceed. But ultimately, this is an interesting study asking the provocative question: Do things really change with time?
DeAnne Millais’ scenic design is simple and fluid, and Mylette Nora’s costumes appropriate. Shannon Barondeau’ lighting and Alma Reyes-Thomas’ sound are crucial to the goings-on in the story. The production team has done well with this tale. NO PLACE LIKE GANDERSHEIM is fascinating and often amusing as it grapples with questions for which there may be no clear-cut answers. The all-female cast and production team have developed an engrossing and entertaining production.
NO PLACE LIKE GANDERSHEIM runs through June 25, 2023, with performances at 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays, at 3 p.m. on Sundays, and at 7:30 p.m. on Mondays (no performances on 5/22 and 5/29). The Skylight Theatre is located at 1816 ½ North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Tickets range from $20 to $45 (students $20; seniors $33; Under 30 $25; for Pay-What-You-Can, use code ACCESS). For information and reservations, call 213-761-7061 or go online.