Thoughts & Musings

2nd Story Theatre’s Staging of French Farce Has Great Costumes, Comic Timing

The farce is the thing at 2nd Story, and nobody does it better! If you don’t mind the idea of dying laughing, then this is the show for you.

by Dave Christner, Newport Mercury
  • 26th March 201426/03/14
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For the finest in fantastical French farces you needn’t look any further than Warren’s 2nd Story Theatre where the current production of Georges Feydeau’s, “Le Dindon” solidifies Artistic Director Ed Shea’s mastery of the French boudoir and salon — places where morals and manners do nothing more than get in the way of love, true or otherwise.

The plot is typically French farce: the scent of love is more prevalent in the air than roses; secret letters are exchanged and misinterpreted; adultery is as common as kitchen cutlery; mistaken identities are the norm, and nobody is happy with their lot in life, or so it seems — fertile ground for a twisted mind like Feydeau’s. And he makes the most of it.

Costume Designer Ron Cesario’s beautifully detailed period finery adorns some of 2nd Story’s most talented and beautiful actresses — Ashley Hunter Kenner as Lucienne, Hillary Parker as Madam Pontagnac, Rae Mancini as Anabelle, and Laura Sorensen as Colette — as they negotiate the slippery slope falling somewhere between marital bliss and, real or imagined, infidelity. Don’t let their beauty deceive you. These gals are as bawdy a bunch of beguiling birds as you’ll ever see on a single stage. Their comic timing is impeccable and they can do more with a facial expression than a less talented actor can do with an entire monologue.

Their husbands and suitors are no less finely festooned in the latest 19th century Paris fashions. Ara Boghigian as Pontagnac and Jeff Church as Redillon, both free-spirited and committed womanizers could easily make the cover of GQ or Esquire. Tom Bentley as the potential cuckold, Vatelin, is dressed less flamboyantly, but his more conservative dress speaks of his lawyer persona, which is both a boon and bane in Feydeau’s book of love.

Trevor Elliot’s set, consisting primarily of huge replicas of impressionistic paintings (rendered by Candis Dixon and Ken Resseger) that look like they could have just been taken from the Louvre, serve as the perfect backdrop for this comedy in which suitors will do anything to impress a woman if it will get her into his bed or vice-versa.

Mancini’s performance as Annabelle, the oversexed Texan Vatelin bedded down while on a New York business trip is priceless. Having tracked him down in Paris, she is clearly a woman who knows what (in this case who) she wants, and is willing to do almost anything to get it. Laura Sorensen as the oversexed siren, Collette, is unabashedly accommodating not only to her lover, Redillon, but also to the hotel busboy, Victor (Brendan Macera) whom she manhandles like an old pro. Sorensen has the chance to display her lovely voice in a catchy little number between acts.

Pam Faulkner who plays the tone-deaf Mademoiselle Pinchard is a hoot and a holler as well. Teamed with Jim Sullivan as her husband, they create scene after scene that fills the theater with uproarious laughter that no doubt echoes up and down the streets of this old industrial town like a howling wind.

The show is loaded with countless other resplendent performances, including, but not limited to those of John Michael Richardson, Erin Elliott, Walter Cotter, F. William Oakes, Jeff DeSisto, and Charles Lafond. There’s something for everyone in delightful take on the good the bad and the downright disgusting.

The farce is the thing at 2nd Story, and nobody does it better! If you don’t mind the idea of dying laughing, then this is the show for you.

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