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by Larry Litt
The Country Wife
The Country Wife
Written by William Wycherly
Directed by John Ficarra
Produced by HoNkBarK! And Vital Theatre Company
At McGinn Cazale Theatre, 2162 Broadway
Opened Jan 8th, closes Jan 27th
Tickets: $17 General, $15 Students at www.theatermania.com
Reviewed by Larry Litt
The deviousness of Harry Horner, a womanizing seducer extraordinaire, is the basis for all romantic sex comedies since The Country Wife's fIrst performance in 1675. Watching and laughing at HonKBarK!'s brilliantly energetic full dress production, I was reminded of why romantic comedies from Hollywood almost never make me laugh. Sighs of recognition and frustration yes. Side splitting guffaws, no.
In this hilarious production it's the acting and direction that compels me to understand the difference between the mundane boy meets girl etc. comedy and a cast that's over the top. Particulary Brian Linden as the incredibly naïve and outrageously stylish fop Sparkish, who carries the play's message of sexual fun and romantic caution to extremes of wit and pathos.
There's not enough room in this review to praise all the conniving, conjugally inclined portrayals of Wycherly's Ladies of Quality, glamorously played by Linda Jones, Janna Kefala, Laura LeBleu, Kristin Price, Bridgette Shaw and Dolores Kenan. Ms LeBleu especially flashes her eye flutters while campily vamping and tramping through a lifelong litany of complaints about the romantic rejections of sophisticated ladies. By contrast, to look at Laura LeBleu no one would never think she was romantically rejected. Oh the trials and tribulations of the rich, beautiful and aristocratic.
However, Kristin Price as Margery Pinchwife is a flawlessly coy, naive coquette with only one big thing on her mind. She plays well off Ray Rodriguez, whose Mr. Pinchwife is always frustrated. He's soon to be cuckolded no mater what he does to head the lovers off. He plays masterfully in confused rampage.
Mr. Pinchwife is on a wild ride of deception by his good friend Harry Horner played as a dapper cavalier scoundrel by Richard Haratine. The point is that Harry Horner is a libertine only after sex, not caring a whit about true love and the companionship that relationships can sometimes bring.
Regal and aristocratic Maurice Edwards as Sir Jasper Fidget balances his loose ladies with his clearly wrongly wrought guilelessness and vocal gymnastics. Robert Lehrer beautifully underplays Quack, the false authority who confirms Horner's decetive physical condition.
John Ficarra and his production team obviously care for their actors' well being.
Music by Dana Haynes additionally creates the Restoration period in England as do the paintings representing that liberatinated age. In some ways more liberated than today.
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