BWW Review: EDWARD GANT'S AMAZING FEATS OF LONELINESS Too Funny To Miss at the Lawrence Arts Center

The first production of the Downtown Underground series at the Lawrence Arts Center, Edward Gant's Amazing Feats of Loneliness, a hilarious comedy continues through November 8. The play written by Anthony Neilson is a co-production of the Card Table Theatre Company and the Arts Center.

Directed by Jaqueline Grunau the play is a Victorian Freak Show, but not like most of 1881 featuring deformities of the body. Edward Gant's Amazing Feats of Loneliness is a freak show of the heart and emotions. Gant brings to the public a farce of stories of love lost and preposterous tales of the heart. The production is about storytelling, mixed with a huge handful of elaborately bazaar tomfooleries.

The show begins with Gant telling the forlorn tale of Sanzonetta, a woman so grotesque that even her sister does not want to touch her. Her face covered with pimples makes her a girl too ugly to love, though discovering that the popping of the pimples creates a perfect pearl she suddenly becomes more attractive. Throw in a man trying to find a solution to help him forget his deceased wife, a teddy bear begging for an imaginary cup of tea, and an actor visited by the Terrible Phantom of the Dry (a ghost who appears when actors forget their lines), and you have the makings of a wonderful night of frivolity.

Will Averill stars as the prodigy, soldier, traveler, poet, and consummate showman Edward Gant. Averill is superb as the sublime showman trying to keep his troupe of misfit actors together for one more show. Considerably less animated that the other characters on stage, he uses the authority in his voice and subtle facial expressions to move the show along and draw laughs from the audience at unforeseen moments. Averill is the Artistic Director of the Card Table Theatre Company.

Chris Roady stars as Jack Dearlove, an actor who portrays several characters during the emotional freak show. He is magnificent as the suitor of the pimpled face pearl dropper and as the man looking for a way to forget his wife. Roady is a graduate of Lawrence High School, appearing with the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Actors Theatre, Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, and the Unicorn Theatre among others.

Erica Fox gives a hilarious performance as Madame Poulet, playing several characters in the show within a show. Fox has splendid comedic timing, drawing uproarious laughter from the audience. Fox has appeared around the globe including in Cats in Hamburg, with the Salzburg Cathedral Choir, and the Pittsburg Opera Chorus. Locally she has appeared at the Lawrence Arts Center, Johnson County Community College, and the Barn Players among others.

Christoph Cording plays Nicholas Ludd, and is hysterical, and a little shocking, in each of the characters, he brings to the stage. He makes his debut with the Card Table Theatre Company and has appeared previously in Bloody Murder, Ragtime, Shrek, and The Great Gatsby for Theatre Lawrence. In Kansas City, he appeared in the She&Her Production of Jekyll & Hyde.

The costuming by Jeannie Harper, Olivia Hernandez, and Jen Young is marvelous with the top hat and cane of Gant and the period dresses of Sanzonetta and her sister. The Free State Liberation Orchestra Gypsy Band featuring Ric Averill, Michael Bradley, and Rachael Perry accompany the cast through their shenanigans on stage.

Edward Gant's Amazing Feats of Loneliness continues at the Lawrence Arts Center in the Performance Studio through November 8 with shows beginning at 8 p.m. Purchase tickets at the Lawrence Arts Center website. Photo courtesy of Card Table Theatre Company.

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From This Author Steve Wilson