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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hilarious High Jinks

Theater Review

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   There’s a new kid on our theater block. Lake Geneva Theatre Company premiered with Noel Coward’s Private Lives on July 4, offering its own celebratory bang.

  Bright, sophisticated comedies from the 1920s and ‘30s—such as Coward’s exemplary romps—took a nosedive into oblivion post-World War Two. “Realistic” replaced “Artificial” comedies.

  Using the memorable performances of Tallulah Bankhead and Donald Cook in Coward’s classic as a yardstick, the theater company measures up exceedingly well—which translates: “They mostly don’t make out like they’re doing Neil Simon.”

  Outstanding is Laura Frye as first-time bride, Sybil. Her body language, vocal range and perfect hairdo of blond ringlets convinces the audience she’s something of a baby airhead, yet smart enough to wind a guy on the rebound around her ring finger. (Pity the color of her first-act stylish gown doesn’t become her character as much as her second-act suit.)

  Sibyl’s new hubby, Elyot (Kelly Dean Cooper), is a match for her—both the character and the actress. He’s something of a delightful, bantamweight scamp (though a bit more character dignity wouldn’t go amiss) who has deliberately wedded someone entirely different from his first wife, Amanda.

  This time Amanda (Molly Glynn), weds heavyweight Victor (John Maclay)—actually a pompous ass but very definitely Elyot’s opposite. Naturally the ex couple meet accidentally on their respective honeymoons, only to discover their deep and abiding love. But now what to do with their newly wedded mates? Hilarious high-jinks solutions follow. And as a French domestic, Nora Sachs nearly steals the show, proving there are no small parts, only small actors!

  There may be a sensible reason why skillful director Laura Nicholas DeMoon dropped the intermission between original Acts One and Two, but its absence did encourage the tedium of too much good for too long.

  Runs through Aug. 3. For information, call (262) 325-4753 or go to www.lakegenevatheatre.org.

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