Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
The Second Man
Also see Tracy's review of The Miser
American Century Theater's latest offering is the S. N. Behrman play, The Second Man. Originally produced in 1928, The Second Man is a light romantic comedy which conjures up images of sophisticated and romantic icons of a time long past. Absent is the aggressive language and overt sensuality. Instead, this is a play that uses intelligence and wit to reach its denouement.
The Second Man explores the relationships of four very different people. Storey is a hack writer who plans to marry for money. He is caught in a love triangle with Kendall, his rich fiancé, and Monica, a starry-eyed young thing who doesn't have a penny to her name. Completing the foursome is Austin, a rich scientist who wants nothing more than to make Monica his wife.
For the most part, the play is beautifully directed by Steven Scott Mazzola. It is presented in the challenging form of theater-in-the-round and even though the format isn't ideal for this piece, the difficulties are few. There does seem to be an excessive amount of stage business in the second act that is a bit distracting. However, the production as a whole is quite strong.
Bruce Alan Rauscher is perfect as the articulate Clark Storey. He gracefully delivers Behrman's writing while adopting an air of elegance. His charisma is undeniable and he uses it to his advantage. As his fiancé Kendall Frayne, Maura McGinn is delightfully perceptive and a wonderful foil for Mr. Rauscher's Storey. Helen Hayes Award winner Brian Childers plays the smitten scientist, Austin Lowe. Known to Washington audiences for his acclaimed portrayal of Danny Kaye in Danny and Sylvia : A Musical Love Story, Mr. Childers has taken on a much different role and does so incredibly well. The object of Austin's affections is played by Amy Quiggins. As Monica, she has some very good moments. Unfortunately, she doesn't always hold her own against her accomplished co-stars.
The set design by Beth Baldwin is a bit lacking. This design for a living space does not give one a feel for the character that inhabits it nor for the piece in its entirety. However, the costume designs by Michele Reisch are well thought out and the men's wardrobe is especially good.
This production of The Second Man may have a few imperfections but, like the character of Storey, it is easy to overlook flaws when there is so much style to be found. The Second Man runs through May 24th at Gunston Theater II.
The American Century Theater
Clark Storey: Bruce Alan Rauscher