BWW Review: MRS. MANNERLY at Arvada Center Black Box Theatre
Keep your elbows off the table. Always hold a door for a lady. Remember to say "please" and "thank you". These are just some of the commandments of Mrs. Mannerly's manners class, and in her classroom, you'd better follow the rules.
Set in 1967, young Jeffrey (Graham Ward) enters the room where Mrs. Mannerly (Leslie o'Carroll) is the queen of all things polite, and the other child subjects are anything but. Jeffrey is clearly the most well-behaved of the class, and Mrs. Mannerly wonders why he chooses to take the manners class at all. Jeffrey simply wants to be the best at something in his life, and etiquette is his strongest suit. As the class progresses, Jeffrey discovers secrets about the hardened Mrs. Mannerly that make him appreciate her rhetoric, and find friendship between teacher and student.
Leslie O'Carroll and Graham Ward command the stage in this two-person show, and never leave the audience with a dull moment. Ward gives nostalgic whimsy to the character Jeffrey, while O'Carroll brings both strength and vulnerability to Mrs. Mannerly.
The staging of the show in the semi-arena configuration is brilliant for the production, and keeps the audience engaged as if they were sitting in the manners class with the actors. Lighting, by Jon Olson, is especially beautiful and effective throughout the show. The set is simple, and elegant, and designer Brian Mallgrave has added some 60's poster art that brings audiences back to a simpler era.
In all, the show is beautifully done, and is a fine treat for anyone who can reminisce about growing up in the late 1960s. In a world of decaying morals and properness, Mrs. Mannerly brings back a reminder of how polite society should be.
"Mrs. Mannerly" plays the Arvada Center Black Box Theatre January 26 through February 21st. Tickets and information can be found at www.arvadacenter.org or by calling 720-898-7200.