Way of the World
1997, Off-Off-Broadway, NY
By William Congreve
Review by Dudley Stone
Oyez!, Oyez!, Oyez! This production of Restoration Comedy's
1700 masterpiece at the 110-year-old restored Connelly Theatre (East 4th St.
between Avenues A and B), in a 200-seat miniature opera house fitted out with
excellent lighting and a proscenium arch stage, showed that Off-Off-Broadway at
its best can compete with Off-Broadway and Broadway.
The Blue Coat Repertory Company, members of which have been
performing together for the past seven years since meeting at the Colorado
Shakespeare Festival, delighted with a first-rate production and the kind of
ensemble playing rarely seen in New York Add to that fine direction, lovely
costumes and a wonderfully spare set and it was easy to forget that a show
running three hours, with intermission, is asking much of any audience,
particularly in this short-attention-span age.
The play's prose style is dazzling and the wit brilliant.
The plot, though, with its intricate twists and its amorous complications,
cannot be summarized and, in truth, is very difficult to follow (a fact that the
company recognized with a program, a plot outline, and a glossary, all on fine
parchment). Director Roe, who also played the flute introduction, had a sure
grasp of the production throughout, moved it along at a spanking trot, and was
ably served by his excellent, beautifully spoken cast.
The set designers (Cindy
Gnazzo and Mr. Roe) used both the stage and the floor area, with
just a few fine pieces of furniture, and the beautifully costumed players
entered through a large gold frame; sound/lighting were fine (they as well as
costumes were uncredited). As for the superb cast, although it was almost
impossible to single out a performance from the ensemble, Alex
Brentani's Mrs. Millamant -- with fluttering eyes, lashes and
fan -- was particularly well-delivered. Jason
Hauser and Trent Dawson (Fainall and Mirabell)
were suitably stylish and elegant gentlemen; Brandon
Epland and Erik Sherr
(Witwoud and Petulant) were splendid fops (their make-up, lipstick, powder, and
beauty spots, and everyone else's, were splendid). Gina
E. Cline's servant girl, Foible, was splendidly realized; Annalisa
Hill was a lovely Mrs. Fainall; Paula Hoza's Mrs. Marwood was all elegance and style; Vivian
Manning, with rolling eyes and shrieks, as the play neared its
end, was nonetheless very funny in the demanding role of Lady Wishfort; and Kevin
Dwyer (Sir Wilfull Witwoud) was very solid and droll -- and
whether his verve as his wig fell off was rehearsed or not, it was terrific.
Rounding out the great cast with well-delivered cameos as servants and footmen
were Matt Bodo, Amalie
Ceen, Adam Melnick,
Josh Tarjan. Congratulations to
Copyright 1997 Dudley Stone