Photo by Don Kellogg

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tales From Red Vienna

Lynne Meadow and Barry Grove have once again produced a small-theatre ensemble gem at the Stage I at City Center of the Manhattan Theatre Club.

Assembled for this fine work are the "it" girl, Nina Arianda (Helena Altman),  the indomitable Grande Damme Kathleen Chalfant (Edda Schmidt), handsome and charming Michael Esper (Bela Hoyos) and perhaps the boldest character of them all, Tina Benko (Mutzi von Fessendorf).  Finally, making his delightful off-Broadway debut was the extremely affable Michael Goldsmith (Rudy Zuckermaier).  Truly a fine ensemble where the talent of one contrast the talents and characters of the others.

The play only really suffers from its facility.  Two intermissions are necessary in order to make the scene changes - but they are not entirely necessary and prolong the play.  The sets themselves are magnificent given the stage available - rain included!  The leading ladies all charmed the pants off the audience - and Mr. Esper, while a bit uneven in his accent (not sure what exactly he was going for but there were many), was entirely delightful in his persistence for Helena.

David Grimm's plot tries to bring up quite a few issues of historical significance, but I'm afraid
some may be lost on less than the avid history or theater buff.  World War I was quite a long time ago.  All said, the superb cast digs their teeth into a meaty subject and with three acts, proves that more than one gun can be pulled in act I when there are two more to follow.