Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Heir Apparent ***

I wish I had been able to approach the CSC production of David Ives's "translaptation" (his neologism) of Jean-Fran├žois Regnard's 1708 comedy unburdened by expectations. Unfortunately, I could not drive away the memory of CSC's brilliant 2011 production of "The School for Lies." Ives's riff on Moliere's "The Misanthrope," which I thought was one of the best plays of that year. The problem with this work is that Regnard is no Moliere. The humor is broader, less witty and more scatological. Although it makes for an enjoyable evening, the play doesn't reach the heights of Ives's best adaptations or original work. The plot is an old standby -- scheming to win the inheritance of an allegedly dying miser. The major source of the fun is in Ives' delightful rhyming couplets in iambic pentameter. His verses are filled with delightful anachronisms and modern cultural references, e.g. soccer moms, the 99%, CPR. The entire cast is excellent, first among them the always hilarious Carson Elrod ("The Explorers Club," "All in the Timing") as the servant whose crazy plans drive most of the action. Suzanne Bertish, Paxton Whitehead and David Pittu, ever the reliable actors, shine in their roles. Dave Quay, Amelia Pedlow and Claire Karpen are all fine too. John Lee Beatty's set is marvelously cluttered and David C. Woolard's costumes are appealing. Director John Rando keeps things moving along briskly, but I didn't like the choice to have an actor break character and address the audience a few times. I liked the play, but I would have liked it more if I had not seen other better work from Ives. Running time: 2 hours including intermission.

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