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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Vibrant Lunacy in APT's 'The Critic'

Theater Review

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Creative license, when mishandled by the uncreative, can generate results both oafish and irritating. Credit director William Brown and a brilliant American Players Theatre cast for bringing Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Critic to life with vibrant lunacy, resulting in 150 minutes of sheer theatrical joy. The play opened at APT's Spring Green amphitheater Up-the-Hill last week to a raucous and well-deserved audience response.

Critic and benefactor Dangle (Darragh Kennan) and fellow critic Sneer (Jonathan Smoots) crave theatrical activity. After failed meetings with playwright Sir Fretful Plagiary (La Shawn Banks) and the incomprehensible Signor Pasticcio Ritornello (Brian Mani) and his three operatic daughters (Sarah Day, Tracy Michelle Arnold and Deborah Staples), the pair entertain playwright Puff (Jim DeVita) and attend a dress-rehearsal-from-hell of Puff's latest overblown epic The Spanish Armada, resulting in hysterical caricatures of all things theatrical, including critics.

Brown's brilliant rendering delivers some of the heartiest laughs and best performances to grace APT's boards in some time. If comedy can be nuanced, then DeVita is its master, and Day's miming of a comically overwrought Arnold is no less than inspired. Even newer performers hit their comedic marks perfectly, and everyone has tremendous fun, especially the audience.
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