Posted by clara / Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” is an awkward play. Because we view it through a post-World War II lens, it is discomforting to see the characters bully Shylock, a Jewish investor, because of his religion. As the characters in the play seek love – Portia and Bassanio, Nerissa and Gratiano, Jessica and Lorenzo – they completely disregard Shylock. When he seeks justice from the state, the only thread of hope he has left, it turns on him in an unbearable, anti-Semitic ruling. Yet, this is considered one of Shakespeare’s comedies, and the unredeemable ending makes it a tough task for a director.
The benefit of being a part of a well-known theatre company is that you can present even the worst of shows in a pretty package.
Shakespeare Theatre Company’s “The Merchant of Venice” started with a well-choreographed number by Karma Camp, which immediately set the mood for the show’s fast-paced, early-20th century New York setting. The following scene, however, opened to a gaggle of actors trying for laughs. It seemed as though the big set and large performance space was eating up their sound and though they played big to compensate, their delivery read as attempts instead of successes.
Speaking of the set, Andrew Lieberman’s design was gorgeous. The grand staircase, dual-level space, and numerous entry ways gave the show a good sense of flow, all while maintaining a facelessness necessary for the various settings in which the characters encounter one another. The show ran a noticeably Shakespearean two hours and forty-five minutes long, but the overlapping exits and entrances of scenes, aided by the set design, helped heighten the momentum at lagging moments.
The show picked up as Portia, played by Julia Coffey, entered. Her introductory scene with an elaborately choreographed on-stage costume change not only stayed true to her carefree, spoiled character but was well-acted and entertaining to watch. Liz Wisan complemented Coffey’s performance with a matronly Nerissa, who was a nostalgic reminder of Chessy from the Parent Trap.
Carl Cofield and Vaneik Echeverria made for entertaining Princes and the quirky nuances which they developed for their characters made them the center of attention during their short but well-played scenes. It was evident that both actors were in tune with their characters and what was going on around them and the audience applauded for their delightful humor at their exits. Daniel Pearce also stole the stage as Launcelot Gobbo, whose total physical performance was captivating.
Excellent costume choices from designer Jennifer Moeller added to the comedy of the show, especially during Jessica’s escape scene. I can’t complain about the music score, the blocking and staging of the actors in large scenes, or the quotable text. But though the show had a workable New York setting, director Ethan McSweeney failed to give it a higher meaning. Why do the women seem to own the world? Could Antonio’s love for Bassanio ever be acknowledged by the characters? Was there a higher hope for Shylock? What would become of the characters that drove him away after World War II shocked the world?
Perhaps I yearned for Shylock’s recompense because Mark Nelson acted the part so well – and my passing mention does not do him justice. But I do feel that an answer or at least recognition of any one of those questions through a director’s note or on stage choice would have helped me to understand why I needed to see the show now, in this time and place. Instead, it had no message to offer me. It was just a pretty production of a popular play.
For more information visit www.shakespearetheatre.org. “The Merchant of Venice” will run through July 24 in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall.
Posted by clara / Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
June Schreiner, a Reston, VA native, plays Ado Annie Carnes in “Oklahoma!” with Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Schreiner will be a senior at the Madeira School in McLean, VA, and has performed with Synetic Family Theater, the Studio Theatre, the McLean Community Players and the Reston Community Players. She spoke with Northern Virginia Magazine’s Clara Ritger about how she got her start on the stage and some of her favorite parts of the show. “Oklahoma!” opens July 8 and will run through October 2 in the Fichandler Stage at the Mead Center.
NoVA: What got you started in theatre?
Schreiner: Both of my parents were involved in the industry so it’s kind of in my blood. My first show, “Honk!,” was in fifth grade and I immediately fell in love. From there I did about five shows with the Reston Community Players. I grew up with them… they’re like a second family to me.
NoVA: What was the moment you knew you wanted to make this your career?
Schreiner: I went through the process of “Oklahoma!” for the first time last year and I saw what an actor’s lifestyle was like. It really got me hooked. I definitely want to be a career actor.
NoVA: How did your parents feel when you broke the news?
Schreiner: They’ve been 100% supportive from the very beginning. My mom was a film, television, and commercial actress. Some of her roles were in “Karate Kid,” “Outbreak,” and “NYPD Blue.” My dad acted on “General Hospital” for a while, but he most identifies with his directing experience at The Groundlings Theatre in L.A. So they’ve been in the industry, and though they’ve never pushed me to follow their paths, they’ve been supportive all the way.
NoVA: What is it like to work with a professional theatre like Arena Stage?
Schreiner: There are so many rules! Everything is more serious. We have scheduled breaks, and rehearsals are very routine because it’s professional and the actors I work with are doing this for a living.
NoVA: You performed in “Oklahoma!” with Arena Stage last year. Are you the only returning member of the cast, or can audiences expect the same?
Schreiner: Last year some of our cast members were involved with “Follies” at the Kennedy Center, which is now headed to Broadway. We’re so happy for them, but unfortunately they couldn’t join us for this second run. The majority of the cast is returning though, but while audiences can expect the same excitement and adrenaline from the first run, I can say that everything is going to be a bit better. Molly Smith is kicking everything up a notch.
NoVA: What’s the best part about being in the show?
Schreiner: Working with the actors. They mentored me. I also like working in the round. You can feel the audience’s laughter all around you, and it’s a great support.
NoVA: Do you have a favorite moment?
Schreiner: I love the opening number of the second act – “The Farmer and the Cowman.” The whole cast is on stage, being silly, and it’s just a great song. But really, there’s never a dull moment!
NoVA: Is there anything new for this show that you can spoil for our readers?
Schreiner: Well… I’ve got new rope tricks! And in general, the cast is a lot better. We’ve been able to build on our talent from last year.
NoVA: Who is your favorite character or actor in the show?
Schreiner: That’s like choosing my favorite child! I’m certainly close to my scene partners, but I just love the whole cast. I’m forever indebted to all the help they’ve given me along the way.
NoVA: After you graduate from Madeira, do you have plans for college?
Schreiner: I’m going to go to a regular four year school. I’m interested in studying psychology, sociology, English, history… I just want to understand the human condition. I think that is really important for an actor.
NoVA: Any particular colleges you’ve got your sights set on?
Schreiner: Well, I’ve been told not to get my hopes up about one particular place, but I’ve got a list. My top two are Wesleyan and Northwestern.
NoVA: Best of luck! Or shall we say… break a leg?
Posted by clara / Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
After spending time in the Philippines, local playwright Amanda Andrei found inspiration for a tale about religion and love. Her show “Every Night I Die” will premiere at the Capital Fringe Festival on July 9 and the preview was promising.
Angelo and his wife Rafaela married against cultural divides for love. After pregnancy complications, Rafaela finds it hard to get close to her husband, and Angelo starts to look elsewhere. He finds a companion in their maid and Rafaela finds solace in her brothers’ determination to protect her. But when their religions clash – and it is ultimately a mixture of Islam, Christianity, and pagan rituals – the pressure from all sides boils over.
The play itself is written with bits of comedy to help lighten the mood, though some of those elements could be better emphasized by the cast. It is a tragic tale that has a lot to say in the relationships of the Filipino society in which it takes place. Ultimately it transcends that society to all world societies, religions, and relationships.
The show featured strong actors, namely Paolo Santayana as Angelo. His commanding stage presence carried the show, and his portrayal of Angelo was mature beyond his years. Regie Cabico and Don Michael Mendoza played well off of one another as the brothers and became characters that deserved the tragic sympathy of the audience even with their single-minded views. Though the show was very depressing at the preview, the play itself is strong for the Fringe.
The Capital Fringe Festival runs July 7-24. For more information on shows and time, visit www.capfringe.org. “Every Night I Die” has five showings during the festival: July 9 @ 9 PM, July 14 @ 6 PM, July 15 @ 10:30 PM, July 23 @ 10:15 PM, and July 24 @ 3 PM.
Posted by clara / Monday, June 27th, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
At the top of the show, the song “99 Red Balloons” played while an actor, dressed in red with a red balloon attached to his belt loop, floated across the stage, blowing at his balloon with each swift motion.
I attended the Source Festival’s “Lovers & Friends,” a series of six, ten-minute plays that dealt with the complexities of relationships between (you guessed it) lovers and friends. The first play, “Love, Death and Latex” left the audience with its little piece of wisdom: “Latex is for dicks, Mylar is for chicks.” Guess you’ll be buying Mylar balloons for your next anniversary.
Other notable plays in the group are “Fugue for Amorous Tornadoes” and “A Disturbing Encounter at the Calhoun Residence Involving Sex, Marriage, and the America Musical Theatre.” Kari Ginsburg, Piper, was excellent in “Fugue,” always changing her mood like an unpredictable tornado. The cast of “A Disturbing Encounter” was all-around hilarious. The title is rather indicative of the style of show; every character speaks with full-detail. The comedy derives from the corny, but still funny, situations. For instance, when Roger would tell a lie, he would say what he did but put a “No I did not” in front of it.
The remaining plays involved political commentary on government officials’ infidelity, relationships via non-face-to-face communication, and the vicious cycle of being a criminal on the run. Though I can’t comment on the rest of the ten-minute plays, the full-length shows, or what the festival has titled “Artistic Blind Dates,” the performances seemed to be a fun way to showcase local talent in their off season.
The Source Festival is happening now in the Logan Circle area of D.C., and will continue through July 3. Performance times vary depending on the show. For more information, visit www.sourcedc.org.
Posted by clara / Friday, June 24th, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
David Ives does not keep secrets. At least, “Venus in Fur,” his adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s risqué, 1870 novella, doesn’t keep secrets. Right at the beginning the audience is given a clear look at Thomas’s view of modern women while on a phone call. To Thomas, the actresses that auditioned for his play are either young, good-looking, and dim; old, commanding, and homely; or some combination in between that does not involve being both smart and sexy. Thomas diminishes women by classifying them, and somehow we find it humorous. Yet later, Thomas chastises Vanda wanting to reduce his play into a dialogue of race, class and gender. Though we see the hypocrite, we laugh at Vanda’s response: “You should write that up and put it in the New York Times.”
Thomas, like any normal human being, has his character flaws. When Vanda enters after auditions are over, his first impression prevents him from even giving her a chance; to him, she is just another young, sexy, stupid woman. But after her lingering presence demands his attention, we see just how talented she is inside. So why, after she has proven him wrong, does he continue to fall victim to his prejudices?
Ives play takes a comedic look at the power dynamic between a director and an actor and a man and a woman. Though I’m reducing the play to two essential struggles, the tug of war between the characters unravels more than meets the eye. Ives openly states his intentions with his characters, and it’s fascinating how the audience is still shocked by the results, regardless of the warning. Perhaps it is because Thomas resembles so many people we’ve encountered, or because we may have a bit of Thomas in ourselves. There are moments when his behavior is indubitably despicable. But there are moments when you, as the audience, feel despicable for feeling joy at Vanda’s harsh manipulation. Again the answer is in the text. Thomas asks Vanda to prove that she loves him. After she wonders how, the biting truth comes out. “By doing what all of us do,” he says. “Hurt me.”
Vanda, played by Erica Sullivan, steals the show. Her quickness of tongue and movement hammers home the hilarity of her character. Just when you think the show is about to get serious, she exuberantly delivers comic relief. And the various accents she dealt out were not only perfect, but perfectly transitioned; her talent is undeniable. Christian Conn (Thomas) does well opposite Sullivan and the palpable bond between the two raises the stakes on stage. Both do an excellent job of challenging one another, and there were moments when their strong performances caused the audience to erupt in applause. Regarding play writing, Ives said, “I think what we’re supposed to do is write wonderful things for actors.” He’s written a demanding script and the performances from Sullivan and Conn go above and beyond.
Also notable was Michael Lincoln’s lighting design. He switches between fluorescents and stage lights, and when Vanda plays with mood lighting the shadows that develop add a surreal element to her character. I appreciated the storm motif which director David Muse carried out with the help of sound designer Matthew M. Nielson. It became another factor in knowing what was to become of the characters while denying it nonetheless. I also salute Jennifer Moeller’s costume design. Vanda is the picture of prostitute and poise, a hard combination to achieve without backstage changes.
The Studio Theatre has extended the run of “Venus in Fur” through July 10. For more information, visit www.studiotheatre.org.
Posted by clara / Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
From the moment I set foot in the theatre I knew I was uneasy. The set is a modern living room with an eerie similarity to a mental hospital. The walls are white, and the room is decorated with stark simplicity. The furniture is basic: a lonely arm chair, an L-shaped couch, the standard end table.
The actors entered, and the lights went up – but not completely. Two overhead spotlights on Deeley and Kate kept the rest of the room dim. The absence of light on the mysterious, dark woman who stood in the background while Deeley and Kate carried on their conversation about the woman’s forthcoming visit was brilliantly creepy. I feared her presence yet wanted to know everything about her.
Intrigue, uncertainty and fear are the best words I can choose to describe both my mental state and the events that unfolded on the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Lansburgh stage. “Old Times” is a typical Harold Pinter play, designed to make the audience feel uncomfortable. But I questioned myself as I chatted amicably with the woman who accompanied me to the performance. I insisted that I remembered my first kiss quite clearly, but perhaps my memory was no different than Deeley’s and Anna’s; contradictory, unstable, and never the same.
Any production that incites discussion before and after the performance is worth seeing. Pinter has a point to make about the feeble memories we helplessly rely on to create our identity of self, and this cast and production team has gone above and beyond in uncovering the questions we’d rather not ask.
Pinter’s script demands a cast that can do as much with verbal dialogue as they can with facial expression and gesture in the moments of silence. Steven Culp, of “West Wing” and “Desperate Housewives” fame, is astonishing as Deeley. His quick succumb to jealousy is evident by the way he anxiously hovers over and around Kate while Anna enchants her. Tracy Lynn Middendorf, Kate, has the perfect Mona Lisa smile; you’re never sure what is going on behind it but you also know that the dark abyss of her mind to which Anna and Deeley constantly refer is full of unspoken truths. Holly Twyford, Anna, entered with the perfect amount of exuberance to indicate to the audience that she would ripple the zen of Kate and Deeley’s home. Though these are only snapshots of the cast’s collective performance, all three were beyond perfect, if there is such an honor.
It was fascinating to watch the actors bring this script to life. The rehearsal work of all three shone on stage. Their movements fed off of each others, and a natural rapport led to perfectly timed sips of drinks and comedic, simultaneous audience cheats. There were moments when the mirror image of Kate and Anna became essential to my understanding of the play, and the posture and poise which each actor established for their character set an interesting visual contrast for a play that can fall short to the script’s reliance on language.
Director Michael Kahn has created a masterpiece. There were moments – like when Deeley and Kate poured drinks at opposite ends of the stage while Anna mused in silence – that the staging gave the audience comic relief from the tension. But there were moments – like when Deeley’s and Anna’s competing interests cast out the one they were competing for – that Kate’s spacey wandering about provided another bit of visual comprehension for the audience. The play relies on the subtle motions of the actors, and their body language is often all the audience has to interpret the characters’ verbal interactions.
Not to mention that Scott Zielinski’s lighting design was superb from start to finish. I was always taught that the best lighting design should go unnoticed. Scratch that; this play is not the same without the specificity of light illuminating, and more importantly keeping in the dark, characters in the room. And Walter Spangler’s set design not only maintains an impressively basic functionality, but creates a world of poignant edges and lines, a clear picture for a play of fuzzy memories.
You might go for the big name cast, but you’ll leave obsessing over the unanswered questions and the excellent performances by all. The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s “Old Times” runs through July 3 in the Lansburgh Theatre. For more information, visit www.shakespearetheatre.org.
Posted by clara / Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Though Tennessee Williams’s character Tom says, “People go to the movies instead of moving,” Georgetown University’s production of “The Glass Menagerie” will move you.
Williams wrote a script that tells the story of a torn family: torn by loss, misfortune, disability, and unrest. There is Tom, the narrator of the story who wants to leave St. Louis, but instead must provide for his mother and sister by working his dead-end warehouse job. There is Laura, Tom’s sister, whose mental and physical health has kept her from a future of either finding a husband to care for her or holding a job to care for herself. And there is Amanda, their mother, who fell in love with a man who wouldn’t stick around, who makes every effort to better the lives of her children, but whose ultimate flaw is her refusal to accept the conditions of those around her.
The tragedy of knowing the ending before it comes eats away at you – and doesn’t make watching it any less upsetting. The new Mead Center’s Kogod Cradle is an intimate space; as the events unfold your proximity to the characters moves you to want to reach out as though your offer for comfort could change their situation. Robbie Hayes’s set design, however, separates (and yet suggests a fusion of) the worlds of audience and actor. Tom’s first entrance, where he describes the events that are about to unfold, draws you in. But with the swish of a sheer curtain, a replacement for the grand drapes, you once again become a voyeur. Moreover, as the scene in the dining room unfolds, you feel like a peeping Tom; director Derek Goldman has chosen to keep the curtain drawn. It initiates the uncomfortable thought that the stranger sitting next to you might also go home to draw the drapes before facing his or her own familial turmoil. But it makes the performance real.
Hayes’s work with Jared Mezzocchi, the video/imagery designer, Matthew M. Nielson, the sound designer, and Colin K. Bills, the lighting designer, added a new level to the performance. The special effects brought Williams’s work to life through the unexpected combination of live and recorded performance, and was always enhancing, never distracting. Furthermore, it set the right tone from the very beginning, and the reappearing motifs of the blue roses and the black and white films carried the show well. I was blown away by the package presented by this design team. No matter where or how many times you have seen “The Glass Menagerie,” no production will match the technical and artistic beauty of this one. Every detail was spot on.
Finally, the cast’s performances were superb. Clark Young’s portrayal of Tom hit the mark; there is a fine line between over-the-top and believable, engaging gesture, and the moments when he raged at Amanda drew me to tears. Rachel Caywood made the right choices with how she became Laura; I didn’t see her as an outsider pretending to be crippled and slow, I saw her as a human whose disadvantages only held her back when the people around her acted as though they should. Michael Mitchell’s exuberant characterizations contrasted Caywood well. Sarah Marshall’s comedic timing kept the show from falling into a pit of depression, and her tempo, facial expressions and delivery all made for an excellent Amanda. As I never questioned their accents, it was clear that the dialect coaching from Susan Lynskey paid off.
This is a new partnership for the Arena Stage and Georgetown University, and after the success of “The Glass Menagerie” I hope to see more work from them in the future.
P.S. If you stick around after the performance, you can catch a 30-minute spoof by Christopher Durang, titled “For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls.” You’ll feel like you shouldn’t be laughing… but then that is what makes it inappropriately hilarious. Director Joseph Megel’s efforts to parody the Georgetown production of “The Glass Menagerie” definitely paid off. Visit www.arenastage.org for more information about both productions, which run through July 3.
Posted by clara / Monday, June 20th, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
To identify the human condition in a textbook is one matter, but for one man to stand on a stage and deliver a compassionate and perceptive discourse on the constant search for love, acceptance and understanding is a bold undertaking. David Cale has brilliantly done it.
“The History of Kisses,” a world premiere production at the Studio Theatre, takes place on a beach in California where the narrator meets new and old acquaintances as he searches for the answers to love. The sea is, perhaps, the key to the show. Dramaturg Adrien-Alice Hansel writes, “Subject to its own rhythms and logic, the sea has long served as a symbol for the unpredictability of the human heart and the flashes of desire with the potential to shift a life forever.” Cale’s play weaves the romantic encounters of ordinary people into a tale that comes full circle. The comedic, natural way in which the characters’ stories intertwine reads as though Cale has brought a good novel – or a scandalous diary – to life. As Cale’s characters explore the beach and recall their lost loves, we as audience members are watching from the sea, recognizing our own flashes of desire and vulnerabilities in the characters’ successes and struggles.
From the moment David Cale walks across the sandy stage to face the audience, you can’t take your eyes off of him. He is an excellent storyteller who has mastered the art of building a plot; not only do his stories crescendo in their language but his masterful delivery captures your attention. From the scene where he presents an erotic Australian cooking show to the memory of a woman who found out that her lost love, and father to her child, died, it is evident that Cale’s creative talent is both humorous and somber. The concerns of his characters felt real. I was watching real men and women, not just the writings of one man.
Cale had a strong and versatile cast of characters to perform. He excelled at the accents, though I would have liked to see more diversity with the women he played. While that may not have been vocally possible, many of the women fell into a pattern of jerky, gossipy gesture and sound that I felt could have been remedied with a foreign accent or graceful posture and movement. I applaud the choice to have an easel with scene titles and characteristics. It didn’t seem out of place on the set and was a helpful tool for moving the dialogue forward. Beverly Emmon’s lighting design also enhanced the storytelling, splashing different washes of light over the characters as their stories moved from night to day and even underwater.
The simple set became a canvas for Cale. It was never distracting for his performance. The lifeguard chair, the backdrop of an old brick wall, and the vast stretch of sand allowed his characters to take their preference for how and where they would tell their story. I begged for him to leave his shoes behind, though. It would have added a nice touch to the motif of the beach, the barefooted feeling that lovers get when they’ve got everything to lose, and the vulnerable openness which he and his characters take in their interactions with the audience.
Perhaps the most poignant part of Cale’s script is the beautiful seeds of advice he plants along the way. For those itching for a new adventure, “Slap your daily routine in the face and say, I’m out of here.” For those who can’t find the courage to put themselves out there, “You’re on this bloody earth but once. Go and sing your heart out.” But for those who are in the mood for 90 minutes of heartwarming and heartbreaking stories, “The History of Kisses” is on stage at the Studio Theatre (www.studiotheatre.org) through July 3, and it’s “a welcome break from the ordinary.”
Posted by clara / Monday, June 20th, 2011
Have you heard the good news?
Crystal City BID and Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse are bringing the famous Chicago Improv Group “Second City” to the Synetic Theater stage! Mark your calendars because they’ll be in town July 15 and 16. Tickets are now on sale for $40 www.arlingtoncomedy.com.
We’re told that the new partnership is pushing its efforts toward making Crystal City a suburban center of comedy. We couldn’t be happier.
Also, we wish congratulations to the 1st Stage Theater in Tyson’s Corner! Their production of “Jack and the Beanstalk” won the Helen Hayes Award. Written for children and adults by DC playwright Mario Baldessari, with music by Rex Daugherty and directed by Leslie A. Kobylinski – “Jack and the Bean-Stalk” is a fun-for-the-whole-family, comic, rollercoaster ride of quirky characters, including an irreverent Cow, a crafty, bean-peddling Stranger and a saucy Hen What Lays the Golden Eggs. Aimed at younger audiences, but with lots of laughs built in for adults, it’s a perfect fit for families who want to share the joy of live performance theater. Tickets are $15, and the production closes this Sunday, June 26. For more information, visit www.firststagetysons.org.
Don’t forget this weekend is the Georgetown Waterfront Festival! They’re hosting D.C.’s largest water balloon battle. Get your super soakers and swim trunks ready, because the festivities last from Noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 26 at the Washington Harbour. The water war starts at 2 p.m. But no festival would be complete without food. Tony & Joe’s and Nick’s Riverside Grill will be serving up fresh seafood and burgers. For more information, visit www.georgetowndc.com.
Posted by clara / Friday, June 17th, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
Rarely does an artist inform patrons that his or her work is “art for art’s sake.” But for The Little Theatre of Alexandria director Albert Coia, a belly full of laughs is exactly what he hopes to give you.
“Move Over, Mrs. Markham” is a British farce involving the tale of four couples – well, four and a half if you’re counting the fact that two are a husband and wife cheating on one another – as they simply try to have a nice night in with their sex partner. Just when the fizzling romance of Mr. and Mrs. Markham is turning into bubbling desire, another kettle is added to the stove; Mrs. Markham has promised her friend Linda the apartment for her own rendezvous. Not to mention that Mr. Markham told Henry that he and their telephone operator could have the apartment that evening, and the Markham’s interior decorator was seducing the maid for their own escapade.
But that is only the beginning of their night. In the Markham’s attempt to cover up their friends’ affairs, their own relationship falls victim to suspicion and jealousy, all while a little white lie told by the poor Mrs. Markham becomes a very large predicament. Oh, bollocks.
You don’t have to be a Brit to find humor in their situation. Ray Cooney and John Chapman have written an indelible script full of witty one-liners and intriguing page turners. And if you never knew how to goose a person, you’ll walk out of the theatre wondering when you can try it next.
You’ll also walk out remembering the gorgeous costumes designed by Jean Schlichting and Kit Sibley. The designers highlighted the bright, trendy designs of the 1970s, and the clothing frames the colorful cast well. Though their accents may be silly their performances are all but professional, and I thoroughly enjoyed the flustered, well-meaning Mrs. Markham which Shelagh Roberts portrayed. I also enjoyed James Raby’s protective, jealous Philip Markham as he interrogated Erik Harrison as Alistair, and both were cast perfectly.
The show ran for two and a half hours, not including the intermission, and I must say that the length was noticeable. Though all the elements for a perfectly entertaining evening were present, you’ll find that the beginning is slow as the characters are introduced. I noticed that the plot becomes more engaging as the pacing picks up in the second act. Dan Remmers’s genius set design also helps give the production some speed. Not only does it look like a fun apartment, but it facilitates motion in and out of the many doors, all while centralizing the action in the formidable living room.
The show runs through June 25 at The Little Theatre of Alexandria. Tickets cost between $17-$20. For more information, visit www.littletheatre.com.