BWW Reviews: 2nd Story Presents Fantastic, Fanciful Farce with LE DINDON
There's no denying it, it's been an awful winter. There are likely a number of scientific studies to back up that fact. It's been cold and grey and dismal for quite a while and the snow and ice are just now, at the end of March, starting to vanish completely. What better way is there to shrug off this dreary gray season than a bright, exuberant and riotously funny comic farce, live on stage? Have no fear, 2nd Story Theatre has exactly what you need with their current production of Le Dindon, by the master of French farce, Georges Feydeau.
To try to sum up the plot of Feydeau's play would take much more space that I am willing or able to use here. From start to finish, it's a roller-coaster of illicit affairs, mistaken identities, jealous wives, cuckolded husbands, scorned lovers and door-slamming fun. At its heart is Lucienne, a woman pursued by not one but two men who claim to love her, Pontagnac and Redillon. She rebukes both men but makes a promise that she will give in to their advances and be with them if her husband, Vatelin, should happen to cheat on her first.
Juggling that storyline, and all the other subplots, is director Ed Shea, who also wrote this new translation of Feydeau's text. Shea demonstrates a master's skill at keeping up the feverish pace while at the same time never letting the audience miss out on the fun. Every joke and laugh line has just long enough to register before quickly making way for the next one. And the moments of physical comedy are staged perfectly, for maximum effect.
At Shea's disposal is a wonderful ensemble of actors, all of whom seem to be having the time of their lives on stage. The fun inherent in the script is brought to life by the energy and enthusiasm for the work that's obvious in the actors. They also exhibit some fantastic stamina, as the ninety minute show flies by with only short scene breaks but no intermission.
Ashley Hunter Kenner gives one of the most winning and lovable performances of the season as the woman at the center of all the madness, Lucienne. Kenner's got great comic timing and an expressive face, she often gets an enormous laugh with only a look in her eyes or a crooked smile. With charisma to spare, she has the stage presence to easily carry the role and in a different play, I'm sure she could carry an entire show on her own.
In this case, nothing close to that is necessary, as Kenner is surrounded by a group of equally talented actors. Ara Boghigian and Jeff Church are both perfect as the two aspiring lovers, Pontagnac and Redillon respectively. Boghigian always seems to shine best when he's getting to be just a little mischievous and devious, while never losing his natural charm and easy going persona. Church remains reliable as always, showing his usual spot-on comic timing and ability to make us relate to or sympathize with his character, no matter what he's doing.
While the show has a large cast, with the men just barely outnumbering the women, it is the actresses who really shine brightest, each in their own way. Hillary Parker and Laura Sorensen are both great in small roles that could be thankless if Parker and Sorensen weren't so much fun and charismatic. But they are, so their small parts are enormously fun to watch. The same goes for Erin Elliott as Clara, Pam Faulkner as Mme. Pinchard and Rae Mancini as Anabelle. Each one gives their character a unique and hilarious life on stage, regardless of how long, or brief, their time is in front of the footlights.
Speaking of footlights, 2nd Story's set, by Trevor Elliott, is wonderfully bright and fun. The audience gets transported back to an old theater in Paris, complete with an ornate proscenium framing the stage. The backdrop to the play takes the form of enormous paintings which are impressive, though rather unnecessary since they don't actually help to tell the story. They also apparently required the most ridiculously noisy scene changes ever heard for the paintings to be changed in between scenes. A mention should also be made fo the spectacular costume design by Ron Cesario. He decks out the entire cast in wondferfully bright and fun costumes which help to tell the story while being worn perfectly by his actors.
Truthfully, though, this show isn't about the set or scene changes or the costumes. It's about having fun, not taking anything seriously and enjoying the ride. It's a big, bright hilarious farce that is sure to banish the winter blues and get you in the mood for spring, which is exactly what we need right about now.
Performances of Le Dindon are March 20 through April 13, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:30pm. Tickets are $25. Tickets for ages 21 and under are $20. 2nd Story Theatre is located at 28 Market Street, Warren, RI and tickets are available by visiting the box office, calling the box office at 401-247-4200, or visiting their website at www.2ndStoryTheatre.com.