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BWW Reviews: Anything Goes at Actors Theatre's THE COTTAGE

Actor's Theatre's The Cottage is light fare for a hot summer's night. It's silly and predictable stuff, based on a premise that could have as easily come from the mind of Noel Coward but that to be truly great and live up to its hype would have required his writing prowess.

This is to say that Sandy Rustin, the playwright for whom Coward is the apparent inspiration is no Coward. Brave she may be, nevertheless, to launch her dramaturgy with a foray into the madcap arena of fidelity and betrayal. Yes, she's got comic sensibility, but her script plays more like an extended Saturday Night Live skit.

In this variation of the bedroom farce, directed by Matthew Weiner, Sylvia Van Kipness (Maren Maclean) boldly goes where some wayward spouses ill-advisedly have gone before. She has telegrammed (it's the English countryside of 1923!) to her husband Clarke (Tyler Eglen) that she's been having an affair with his brother Beau (Joseph Kremer) ~ and to add spice to this daring act of transparency, she has cc-ed, as it were, the same notice to Beau's wife Marjorie (Angelica Howland). When Beau's girlfriend Dierdre (Alexis Green) and her ex-husband, Richard (Ian Christiansen) pop in to constitute the six-some sex-some, the choreography of this dance of entanglements gets further twisted.

The ensuing action is a mix of madcap antics and exaggerated physicality, committed superbly and with flair by Ms. Maclean and Mr. Kremer. Just watching the stagecraft of these two artists makes up for the play's deficiencies and its occasional tilts to slapstick.

Ms. Maclean is an actress of grand gestures and a master of facial expression. She commands, indeed she graces, the stage, but the stage of this venue is too small for her grandeur. She should be on Broadway.

The game of fidelity and betrayal is on, the deceptions are a bit obvious, the surprises fall a tad flat at The Cottage. There are none of the devices of an Anthony Shaffer or the nuances of a Moliere to make this work other than a playful and mildly enjoyable romp.

The play runs through August 17th.

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From This Author Herbert Paine