2nd Story’s ‘Dupe’ A Riot
An orgy of laughter.by Channing Gray, Providence Journal
Warren’s 2nd Story Theatre has put on some pretty adventuresome shows in its new downstairs performance space. But the company hasn’t forgotten its bread and butter upstairs, with a rollicking Georges Feydeau farce offering more fun than anyone deserves.
“The Dupe” is a typical bedroom farce, which is to say there’s lots of sex talk and endless couples parading through the same hotel room.
Ara Boghigian’s Pontagnac is a shameless womanizer who’s been stalking the lovely Lucienne for a week, not realizing she’s the wife of his friend, Vatelin. And when they meet, Pontagnac starts thinking of ways to drive Lucienne into his arms.
Perhaps if Vatelin were caught cheating, Lucienne might seek revenge by sleeping with him. But Lucienne has another lover in mind.
The plot begins to thicken when Vatelin agrees to a rendezvous with loud, crude Anabelle, a tough-talking Texas housewife he once had an affair with. But they are not alone. Everyone in the cast, it seems, takes turns showing up in their bedroom, creating an orgy of laughter.
Ed Shea, 2nd Story’s founder, has come up with the translation for this zany play, adding a few contemporary touches. And he directs, too, going for a high-revving production that at points is pure mayhem.
But he also has a fine cast to work with, starting with Ashley Hunter Kenner, who as Lucienne is a real charmer. Boghigian is perfect as the rakish Pontagnac, who’s kind of a sleaze, but somehow lovable at the same time, which often seems to be Boghigian’s M.O.
But I really loved Jeff Church, one of my favorite 2nd Story actors. Like all his roles, there’s something slightly strange about his Redillon, an attractive bachelor who also has the hots for Lucienne.
Church has this deadpan approach that makes even the most insignificant lines seem oddly funny. And he’s wonderful when Lucienne and Pontagnac’s wife throw themselves at him and he’s just too pooped to pop.
But there are many funny touches in this show, including Rae Mancini’s crass Anabelle, and the poor Pinchards, an older couple unwittingly drawn into the madness. The wife, played by Pam Faulkner, can’t hear a thing unless her husband, Jim Sullivan, chews his words, sounding like he’s having a stroke.
And John Michael Richardson is a hoot as the foppish butler Gerome.
Designer Trevor Elliott, who often goes in for realistic, detail-rich sets, has opted instead for a simple backdrop of Impressionist paintings, with doors leading to and from the hotel room where Vatelin and Anabelle meet.
2nd Story has a knack for comedies such as this. Shea always seems to get them to sparkle. And “The Dupe” shines as brightly as any the company has produced.