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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

13 Rue de l'Amour

Also see Susan's review of The Tempest

Rue de l'Amour
Jeffries Thaiss and Ashley West
Georges Feydeau's 13 Rue de l'Amour is a classic among French farces, and director John Going has created a textbook example of the genre in his production at Olney Theatre Center in the Maryland suburbs of Washington. The setting is intentionally cartoonish, the plot runs as smoothly as a finely tuned piece of machinery, the pacing never lags, and the cast gleefully ignores any semblance of subtlety.

Feydeau's 1892 play, translated by Mawby Green and Ed Feilbert, concerns (of course) overlapping affairs among the bourgeois in turn-of-the-century Paris. Justinien Duchotel (Lawrence Redmond) is a seemingly blameless husband who periodically leaves his lovely blonde wife Leontine (Ashley West) to go on hunting trips. Family friend Gustave Moricet (Jeffries Thaiss), a doctor and man about town, has his suspicions about exactly what Justinien is hunting, and wants to use the husband's possible indiscretions as a way to manipulate the wife into visiting his own bachelor apartment at 13 Rue de l'Amour (Love Street).

The confusions soon begin piling up. Justinien's young nephew Jean-Pierre (Nick DePinto) is still a student, so he needs money from his uncle to entertain his mistress; Justinien's friend Birabeau (Vincent Clark) confesses doubts about his own unseen wife; and several of the men just happen to be wearing identical suits while all this is going on. This is the kind of play where a hopeful lover gets caught not by the intended person wearing only socks with garters and a strategically placed pillow, and the line "How could I know your husband would take my trousers?" makes perfect sense in context.

Thaiss is properly slick and just a bit smarmy, Redmond appropriately aggrieved and frazzled, and West bubbly and coquettish, but it's Halo Wines who steals the show as Madame Spritzer, once a German countess, now the overripe concierge at 13 Rue de l'Amour. Draped in fabulously clashing ruffles of hot pink and red, with overly rouged cheeks and blue eyelids, she dithers and poses, daring the audience to look elsewhere whenever she's onstage.

The amusements of James Wolk's scenic design begin before the curtain opens, with an exaggerated free-form proscenium decorated with Art Nouveau swirls. Liz Covey has designed costumes that manage to be both sumptuous and humorous: Leontine's dress is the same shade of hot pink as much of the set.

Olney Theatre Center
13 Rue de l'Amour
May 16th June 10th
By Georges Feydeau, translated by Mawby Green and Ed Feilbert
Gustave Moricet: Jeffries Thaiss
Leontine Duchotel: Ashley West
Justinien Duchotel: Lawrence Redmond
Marie: Patricia Hurley
Jean-Pierre: Nick DePinto
Birabeau: Vincent Clark
Madame Spritzer: Halo Wines
Inspector of Police: Ethan T. Bowen
First Policeman: Brandon McCoy
Second Policeman: Christopher Poverman
Directed by John Going
2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road
Olney, MD
Ticket Information: 301-924-3400 or www.olneytheatre.org


Photo: Erin Feliciano


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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