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Review Roundup: Irish Rep's LONDON ASSURANCE - What Did the Critics Think?

London Assurance

Irish Repertory Theatre presents London Assurance, written by Dion Boucicault (The Shaughraun) and directed by Charlotte Moore (The Plough and the Stars).

The cast of London Assurance includes Craig Wesley Divino (The Oregon Trail) as Dazzle, Meg Hennessy (The Shadow of a Gunman) as Pert, Ian Holcomb (It's a Wonderful Life) as Young Charles Courtly, Elliot Joseph (The Conjuring 2) as Cool, Brian Keane ("House of Cards") as Max Harkaway, Colin McPhillamy (The Seafarer) as Sir Harcourt Courtly, Rachel Pickup (The Roads to Home) as Lady Gay Spanker, Caroline Strang (Tiny Beautiful Things) as Grace Harkaway, Evan Zes (Incident at Vichy) as Mark Meddle, and Robert Zukerman (If I Forget) as Adolphus Spanker.

In London Assurance, a high-spirited and farcical holiday treat, the vain and lustful Sir Harcourt Courtly travels to Oak Hall to meet his bride-to-be, the charming young Grace Harkaway, whose hand comes with £15,000 a year. But when the beautiful and vibrant Lady Gay Spanker joins the party, Sir Harcourt becomes too enamored with her to notice that Grace is falling in love with his young son Charles, who has arrived in disguise, pursued by his creditors! A parade of eccentric characters and merry mishaps ensue in this classic comedy of manners.

Let's see what the critics are saying...

Alexis Soloski, The New York Times: "London Assurance" has occasional wit and a tidy resolution. It endures on the fringes of the repertory as a display cabinet for comic actors, and a few of the roles, like Lady Gay - "glee made a living thing," as one character describes her - must be bliss to play. But it is as artificial as a plastic topiary, and the farce feels underpowered, like a pillow fight waged with very small pillows. Besides, some of the jokes are flat-out awful.

Elysa Gardner, New York Stage Review: Meg Hennessy, so winning in Irish Rep's recent O'Casey Cycle, brings a more reserved sense of mischief to the clever Pert. Scenic designer James Noone also deserves praise for his handsome, rotating set, which takes us from a tidy ante-room to a lush lawn to a beautifully furnished and lit (by Michael Gottlieb) drawing-room, often a key location in comedies of this sort. This production's shortcomings notwithstanding, and its charms duly considered, it's not a bad place to spend a chilly evening.

Brian Scott Lipton, Theatre News Online: Somehow, Boucicault cleverly gets everyone - as well as Grace's strong-willed maid Pert (Meg Hennessy) - involved in the ever-growing shenanigans. Eventually, there's great joy in watching everyone (well, almost everyone) get their just desserts, without any real harm ever being done and the whole plot tied up in a metaphorically pretty bow. Indeed, this visit to the past is the perfect holiday present - for yourself or anyone you love.

David Hurst, Talkin' Broadway: To be sure, Boucicault's comedy isn't a masterpiece, but it's silly fun, especially with a cast that's having a good time, which the Rep's company certainly is. And although the production could use a little tightening, particularly with the way the characters deliver their "asides" to the audience, this London Assurance is a holiday treat the whole family can enjoy.

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