2nd Story Ladies Man
You’ll laugh out loud.By Kathie Raleigh, Woonsocket Call
Poor Dr. Hercule Molineaux. He tells his pretty, young wife “one tiny, little, hardly noticeable lie” to cover up an indiscretion and ends up in big, very noticeable trouble.
One lie leads to another. The more he tries to explain his troubles away, the more complicated they get.
Before long, his valet and one of his clients, Monsieur Bassinet – an unfortunate name for a man with a prominent lisp — get roped into the ruse as they try to deflect not only Molineaux’s suspicious wife but also his domineering mother-in-law, an amorous patient and her jealous Spanish husband. Even the seemingly innocent maid gets involved.
Add a set with five doors and a window and you have all the elements for a classic French farce, in this case, an adaptation of Georges Feydeau’s “The Ladies Man,” now on stage at 2nd Story Theatre.
This production is a hilarious confluence of mistaken identity, misinformation and crazy coincidence. It starts methodically but goes into overdrive in Act II for some of the most perfectly staged scenes of comic mayhem ever, from a choreographed chase to a pile-up on a sofa.
Director Ed Shea, who also plays the anxiety-ridden doctor, orchestrates the action with meticulous timing. The saying, “When one door closes, another opens,” never had such comical application.
Shea is a hoot as the frantic doctor but lets the spotlight shine on his cast, each with distinctive quirks, including Charles Lafond as the eager but rather clueless Monsieur Bassinet; Tanya Anderson as Suzanne Aubin, the love-struck patient; and Nicholas Thibeault as the beleaguered valet. Payton St. James, over plays Madame Aigreville, the dreaded mother-in-law, but in farce, it fits.
Putting lighter fluid on the comedy fire, however, is Luis Astudillo as Gustavo Aubin, the volatile Spaniard. He uses fluent Spanish and fractured English, along with a whole vocabulary of body language, to wild effect as he parries with words, his sword and, suggestively, a stick.
Upping the ante on entertainment is that terrific, multi-portal set that brings the action up close in 2nd Story’s theater-in-the-round format, and Ron Cesario’s costumes, which are detailed, gorgeous and say so much about the characters clothed in them.
There’s nothing serious about “The Ladies Man,” which is the reason to see it. You’ll laugh out loud.