BWW Review: LETTICE & LOVAGE at West End Productions
West End Production's of Lettice & Lovage, a comedic play written by Peter Shaffer, runs from June 14th- June 30th at North 4th Theatre. This production, directed by Marty Epstein, tells the story of Lettice Douffet, a tour guide at an English country home, Fustain House, who loves to embellish the boring historical facts as often as she possibly can, to make the tours more interesting for all involved. Doing so means that she butts heads with the fact-conscious official from the Preservation Trust, the group that owns Faustain House, Lotte Schoen. Ten weeks after Douffet loses her job due to her inability to stick to the historical facts of the home, in part due to Douffet living her life by the motto/code her mother taught her: "Enlarge! Enliven! Enlighten!" Douffet is visited by Shoen, who wants to check on how she is doing as well as offer her a job giving boat tours on the Thames. As the evening progresses, the two women start to realize how much they have in common and start bonding, eventually becoming friends.
For Epstein, one of the draws to Lettice & Lovage in the first place was the story, "of two lonely women coming from very different lives and finding a commonality in their love of history, architecture, and life," that ends up being both moving and incredibly comedic. Pulling this off is no small feat, to the performances of Colleen Neary McClure as Lettice Douffet, and Jessica Osbourne as Lotte Schoen. Both actresses are perfectly cast, bringing a depth to their characters that helped the audience sympathize with both, no matter how extreme the situations the two women found themselves in.
As Douffet, McClure gives a wonderful comedic performance, leaving the audience laughing at the woman's over the top antics consistently throughout the production. With how McClure portrays her, Douffet's theatrics, no matter how extreme, are balanced her dedication to her life code as well as a desire to embellish the truth as needed, when things become too dull. As Lotte Schoen, Jessica Osbourne, expertly portrays a lonely woman who is looking for friendship and companionship, creating a sympathetic character that all of the audience could relate to.
A production of Lettice & Lovage being successful heavily relies on the lead actresses having chemistry with one another and being able to play off each other well. McClure and Osbourne are definitely up to the task, bantering with one another in a way that makes the comedic lines of the play truly shine. Their performances make the play a joy to watch,and leaves the audience thoroughly entertained.
Lettice & Lovage is playing from June 14th- June 30that the VSA North Fourth Art Center. The run time is 2 hours and 30 minutes, with two 10 minute intermissions. Tickets cost $20, and can be purchased by calling 404-8462 or going to westendproductions.org.