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Way of the World

 1997, Off-Off-Broadway, NY    

Review from the Off-Off-Broadway Review (www.oobr.com), Volume 3, Number 10, April 1997:

By William Congreve
Directed by Alex Roe
Blue Coat Repertory Company

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 all concerned! 

Copyright 1997 Dudley Stone 

 

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