Los Angeles Theater Review: THE BEAUX’ STRATEGEM (A Noise Within in Pasadena)

by Jesse David Corti on April 13, 2013

in Theater-Los Angeles

RESTORED RESTORATION

Northern Irish playwright George Farqhuar died at the tender age of 30, in 1707. However, he finished writing one last play before his passing, The Beaux’ Stratagem, a restoration comedy that was a financial and critical success; unfortunately, Farqhuar could only enjoy its success from the grave. In 1939, Thornton Wilder, hot off the success of Our Town, dove into adapting the centuries-old piece and hoped to produce it on Broadway later in the year. Halfway through Jesse David Corti's Stage and Cinema review of A Noise Within's THE BEAUX' STRATEGEMthe adaptation, Wilder stopped; he never found a way to finish it in a manner satisfying to himself. Fast-forward to 2004, when playwright Ken Ludwig was contacted by Wilder’s estate to complete the adaptation. Now, it finds a home as the last production of the season at A Noise Within.

Stratagem is a bawdy restoration comedy centered on financially challenged rapscallions Jack Archer and Thomas Aimwell, who set out to trot from town to town seducing wealthy women, collecting their estate, and moving on before they’re found out. However, their plan is jeopardized when they find themselves deeply in love with the women they are attempting to swindle. Archer takes a strong fancy to Mrs. Sullen, a woman in a loveless marriage to an alcoholic. Aimwell becomes smitten with Mrs. Sullen’s heavily protected sister, Dorinda, but his efforts to see her are thwarted by those close to her, including her family. How will these stifled lovers break through and successfully find each other, true love, and above all…wealth?

Jesse David Corti's Stage and Cinema review of A Noise Within's THE BEAUX' STRATEGEM

Blake Ellis is wonderfully charming and riotously funny as the faux footmen-true romancer, Jack Archer. Freddy Douglas brings an ebullient exuberance as the doggedly determined faux nobleman-true lover, Thomas Aimwell. Abby Craden adroitly manages the changing rhythms and nuances of the cutting yet lovesick Mrs. Kate Sullen. Malia Wright is enchanting and whimsical as the first-time lover, Dorinda.

Jesse David Corti's Stage and Cinema review of A Noise Within's THE BEAUX' STRATEGEM

Deborah Strang’s scene-chewing continues as Lady Bountiful; behaving and dressing like a cross between Doc Brown from Back to the Future and a chop-happy butcher. Robertson Dean plays the alcoholic Sullen with intoxicated brashness and physical comedy akin to a bull in a china shop. Alison Elliott’s earthy verve and sardonic streak as Cherry serve as an excellent foil for her co-stars. Time Winters gives two great performances as the thief-priest Gloss and as Foigard, a French justice of the peace; he channels Irish charm with a devilish face as Gloss, and plays up the stereotypical pomp to hysterical effect as Foigard.

Jesse David Corti's Stage and Cinema review of A Noise Within's THE BEAUX' STRATEGEM

Angela Balogh Calin’s costumes distinguish the personalities of the performers on stage and make them pop on Michael C. Smith’s spacious, yet ornate set. This comedy runs two and a half hours with intermission, but each well-paced act passes swiftly by, thanks to Julia Rodriguez-Elliott’s snappy and sharp direction. What is normally reserved for scholarly research and analysis is brought to rapturous life on A Noise Within’s stage. Thanks to Ludwig and Wilder’s adaptation, The Beaux’ Stratagem continues to bring posthumous success to George Farqhuar and many laughs for today’s audiences.

Jesse David Corti's Stage and Cinema review of A Noise Within's THE BEAUX' STRATEGEM

Jesse David Corti's Stage and Cinema review of A Noise Within's THE BEAUX' STRATEGEM

 

photos by Craig Schwartz

The Beaux’ Stratagem
A Noise Within in Pasadena
scheduled to end on May 26, 2013
for tickets, call (626) 356-3100
or visit http://www.ANoiseWithin.org

Comments on this entry are closed.