BWW Reviews: CHARLEY'S AUNT Plagued by Pacing Problems
By definition, a farce is a light theatrical work in which highly improbable plot situations, exaggerated characters, and slapstick are used for humorous effect. Brandon Thomas's play CHARLEY'S AUNT (1892) is a classic example of farce. Farce requires a certain level of comic timing. In farce, the humor comes from rapid speech and rapid movement... people running into and out of rooms at breakneck speed and managing to cause havoc in the process. An example of this style done to perfection was the BBC series FAWLTY TOWERS. Another meaning for the word farce is a seasoned stuffing, as for roasted turkey.
The current production of CHARLEY'S AUNT, directed by Karen Jambon for Different Stages, suffers from pacing and timing problems. While half of the cast is playing at the level required for farce, the other half is playing at a level more suitable for a British drawing room comedy. The end result is a fairly flat production that doesn't begin to pick up steam until the second act. I saw this production very early in the run and hopefully the pacing problems will work themselves out.
There is some good work coming from some of the actors: Andy Brown delivers a wonderfully droll and lecherous performance as Stephen Spettigue, Curtis Allmon is quite good as Jack Chesney and Carrie H. Stephens is charming (although too young for the part) as Donna Lucia. The standout performances of the evening; however, are given by Ian King as Brasset and Isto Barton, who is hilarious as Lord Fancourt Babberly.
The costumes by Stephanie Dunbar, were for the most part, unfortunate. Most were out of period and I found myself wondering where the school uniforms were for the boys and why she had people dressed in gloves for dinner.
If they can resolve the pacing problems and knock about 30 minutes off of the running time, CHARLEY'S AUNT might be worth seeing... and we'd have a clearer idea of which meaning of the word farce was intended.
CHARLEY'S AUNT by Brandon Thomas
Running time: Two Hours and Forty Three Minutes with two intermissions.
CHARLEY'S AUNT, produced by Different Stages at City Theatre (3823 Airport Blvd. Suite D., Austin, Tx.)
Mar. 20 - April 11, 2015
Thursdays - Saturdays 8:00 p.m., Sundays 5:00 pm.
Tickets are Pick Your Price: $15, $20, $25, $30. Reservations, call 512-926-6747.