The Ladies Man
All eight performers deserve equal praise for orchestrating what is quintessentially a collective, 'Herculean' stage effort.by Christopher Verleger, EDGE
In our increasingly cynical society where dark and arguably tasteless comedy rules both the small and big screens, 2nd Story Theatre strives for and achieves two hours of nonstop belly laughs with its brilliant, bawdy production of Charles Morey’s adaptation of Georges Feydeau’s French farce, “The Ladies Man.”
In this deliciously silly comedy of errors, director Ed Shea plays Dr. Hercule Molineaux, who sets in motion a series of unfortunate albeit uproarious events when he tells his wife, Yvonne (Jennifer Michaels), a seemingly little white lie.
As of recent, the couple have been sleeping separately, per Hercule’s request, who doesn’t want his wife to know about his virility issues. When Hercule spends one night on a park bench, after escaping the advances of a randy patient, Suzanne Aubin (Tanya Anderson), he tells Yvonne he had been at the bedside of the supposedly ill Monsieur Bassinet (Charles Lafond), who precisely then walks through the door, fit as a fiddle.
When the snowball effect of Hercule’s initially harmless fib further raises Yvonne’s suspicions, she calls upon her mother, Madame Aigreville (Payton St. James), whom Hercule affectionately refers to as Medusa, for emotional support. Meanwhile, Suzanne appears, eager to pick up where she and Hercule left off the night before, despite the potential wrath of her insanely jealous husband, Gustavo (Luis Astudillo), a Spanish soldier.
Rounding out this cast of maladjusted misfits are Hercule’s dutifully loyal valet, Etienne (Nicholas Thibeault), and the snippy maid of the house, Marie (Vanessa Blanchette), both of whom, it turns out, are hardly innocent bystanders.
The perfectly executed, endless series of rowdy entrances and exits, combined with the (pun intended) orally and physically implied innuendo, as well as one character’s lisp and another’s broken English, makes for farce at its finest and most hilarious — and audacious.
While the plot alone is certainly laughable, the cast members’ movements, expressions and behavior are so well synchronized and complementary that you could in effect turn off the sound and the end result would be equally amusing.
Shea is outstanding as the rattled albeit composed Hercule, and St. James as Madame Aigreville stylishly and seamlessly personifies the dreaded, overbearing mother-in-law. Lafond’s mastery of his speech impediment is especially funny, as is Astudillo’s heavily-accented pronunciation of select words and phrases.
All eight performers deserve equal praise for orchestrating what is quintessentially a collective, ‘Herculean’ stage effort. “The Ladies Man” kicks off what is certain to be another exciting, entertaining season at 2nd Story Theatre.