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BWW Reviews: St. Louis Shakespeare Mounts HIlarious and Thought-Provoking RESTORATION

Playwright Edward Bond parodies, skewers, and otherwise upends the restoration comedies so familiar to theatre-goers with his work Restoration. It's a wickedly funny piece that attempts to make some sense of how and why the division of wealth was so unbalanced (sound familiar, it should since we're there again today), allowing the seemingly useless to rule their ivy covered roosts, replete with lush gardens and enough ornate clothing to allow for a costume change for some characters for every scene. St. Louis Shakespeare has mounted a wonderfully amusing production that also makes you think and that's a rarity these days.

Lord Are is typical among his peers, or so we would be led to believe, with his opulent surroundings in direct contrast to his emotional bankruptcy. He marries into wealth to pull himself out of debt, but his bride is determined to make every one of his empty promises come true. Therefore, she disguises herself as the ghost of his haunted manor, but winds up tasting the cold metal of his rapier and not the culinary delights she might have found in London. But Lord Are is clever, literally to a point, and he's able to convince his cowering servant Bob that he, in fact, is responsible for the deed. The story twists and turns from that event forward, providing and engaging and entertaining, if not downright weird and unsettling evening of theatre.

Michael Brightman is exceptional as the perverted Lord Are and his delivery is deliciously sarcastic, making each of the cruel lines he proffers up burn and sting with equal parts laughter and insight; albiet hilariously mangled an mean spirited insight. Luke Lindberg is very good as the pitiable Bob Hedges who arrives thinking he's just another Hedges in a long line of them who have served the Are estate, and who winds up incarcerated for his good, if "to much to the letter of the law", nature. DeLisa Richardson is also up to task as his kind-hearted wife Rose, who finds she has less in common with spouse Bob than the color of her skin. Nocole Angeli is the rich Lady Ann who marries Lord Are for a title, but gets much more than she bargained fro in the end, she doubles up as the Gaoler. Donna Weinsting does lovely work as Bob's long-suffering mother who runs the Are household, and Gwyneth Rausch is properly steeled and inflated as Lady Are.

A terrific supporting cast includes: Bradley Berhmann, Tim Kidwell, Eric White, Kim Sansone, and Brittni Lombardo.

Milt Zoth's expert direction finds the wit and wisdom in Bond's tale, adding modern projections to Cristie Johnson's marvelous and economically opulent set, splendidly lit by Patick Huber. Wes Jenkins provides the costumes which seem to be springing forth from an endless rack of 18th century apparel, and saves the best for the grandly over the top Lady Are.

St. Louis Shakespeare has put together a well mounted and thoughtful (and thought-provoking) production of Restoration, and this fanatical farce continues at the Grandel through August 14, 2011.

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From This Author Harrison Kaplan

Harrison Kaplan has been active in theater in the Midwest Region for the past 40 years, performing in numerous lead and character roles since he (read more...)