KPBS AIRDATE: October 15, 2004
What do politics and husbands have in common? Either one can be a killer. And both are stalking local stages — in the most entertaining ways.
Politics rears its ugly head in “Mrs. Farnsworth,” a light, left-leaning comedy that intimates a nasty story about the sitting President. It’s all part of A.R. Gurney’s lifelong commitment to his beloved, waning WASPs. In this case, one character underscores how George Bush has betrayed his class — with his anti-intellectualism and faux-Texas accent, among other things. Class plays a big role in this theater piece that starred Sigourney Weaver and John Lithgow in New York. The play is set in a Manhattan classroom, a creative writing course which is intruded upon by an upper-cruster, one Mrs. Farnsworth from Connecticut, who has a juicy story to tell. At first, she claims it’s fiction, but as the teacher teases more out of her, we see that the Yalie with the drinking problem and the influential family is sounding more and more familiar. The teacher thinks that, if published, the tale could blow the election wide open. Mrs. Farnsworth’s husband bursts in, and he couldn’t disagree more. The three-way debate, with a few ‘student’ chiming in from the audience, is great fun, and wonderfully rendered by Rosina Reynolds, Jim Chovick and Tim Curns. The husband is manipulative, the teacher is self-serving, and poor Mrs. Farnsworth; well, she’s got a few problems of her own. It’s a slyly subversive piece, brought to us by Fred Moramarco and his Laternever Productions. Grab a liberal, a conservative and go!
Now, if you prefer deadly games of a more mysterious type, you won’t want to miss “Dial M for Murder,” at Lamb’s Players Theatre. The famous Hitchcock movie started out as a play, by Frederick Knott, set in a London flat, and concerning a scamming husband who wants to have his wife killed. So he plans the perfect crime and hires a slimy old school chum. But he doesn’t quite know what he’s up against. His wife’s paramour is an American mystery-writer. And well, you can surmise some of the rest. We know who-done-what right up at the top, but it’s fun to see how it all unravels. The Lamb’s Players do a top-notch job, and the murder scene is especially intense. The costumes are period-perfect, the set, lighting and sound aptly evocative. Kerry Meads’ direction keeps the pace lively and the performances energetic. Jennifer Austin is lovely as the clueless wife, and Rick Meads smugly supercilious as her sociopathic husband. Nick Cordileone looks suitably sleazy as the ex-con, Matt Scott is engaging as the lovesick American puzzler and David Heath brings an amusing ‘Columbo’ klutziness to the Inspector.
So, no matter what you find deadly these days — murder or politics — there’s something for you at the theater.
©2004 Patté Productions Inc.