Photo by Don Kellogg

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The School for Lies

One thing that is not a lie is that this show is one of the best off-Broadway productions that I have seen in a very long time.   I'm not very high-brow, so I went in thinking Moliere + The Misanthrope = big snooze-fest.   Surprisingly, I came out energized, entertained, engaged, and ecstatic!  A cast of wall-flowers this was not.  Strong, confident, talented, and bold are all adjectives that can only start to describe this cast.  David Ives has penned a modern, witty, and extremely intelligent take based on this old gem and Walter Bobbie has taken the directorial reigns with panache and style like no other could.

The ensemble cast lead by the stunningly beautiful daughter of Merryl Streep,  Mamie Gummer (Celimene/Ivory Gown) and dashingly handsome Hamish Linklater (Frank/Black Frock) incessantly worked the meanings, double entendre, and sheer comedy out of every (very) poetic line.  Hoon Lee (Philante/Maroon Frock), Frank Harts (Clitander/Purple Frock), Rick Holmes (Oronte/Yellow Frock), and Matthew Maher (Acaste/Green Frock) charm the pants off you, each in his own endearing, imperfect way.  Jenn Gambatese (Elainte/Blue Gown) and Allison Frasier (Arsinoe/Purple Gown) each tussle with Ms. Gummer for the affections of her men men and the chance to unseat her as queen of the castle.  And last, but certainly not least, Steven Boyer (Dubois/Basque/Brown Frocks) provided regular intervals of a little Shakespearian humor.  (I prefer that to Monty Python, but truth be told, it could fit).  Canapé anyone?.  Truth be told, the language is lofty, but if you follow the humor and witty repartee, the rhymed couplets (or is it iambic pentameter?) start to complete themselves in your head just as they roll off the tongues of the talented actors on stage.   I had a little trouble with the very Elizabethan names of the characters but if you focus on the boldly colored and elegantly designed costume for each character, you'll do just fine.

Speaking of a stage - the elegant costumes were made only more so by the simple, clean ivory-colored stage floor and walls.  Pure white lighting served to highlight the fine detail on the masterful costumes and left your focus on the lofty comedic performances.

I bring this to you not as gossip.  I, too, am merely reporting.