Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
The play's style, dense wordy dialogue and heavy plotting, is very much a relic of another age, yet our young cast does a superb job with it. Andrew Hardaway is charismatic as the Count, much as he was as Oedipus earlier this season. His Count is confident of his social position, bolstered by his wife's fortunes, which allows him free rein among the women of the household. Olivia Osol as his Countess is magnificent, always carrying herself with poise yet emotionally vulnerable because of her deep love for the Count, forgiving his philandering ways. That she also maintains a lover seems not to matter in her world view, a mere plaything which she is prepared to give up.
Katie Sah is Hortensia, the Count's current mistress but vulnerable to being replaced. She handles the household intrigue with grace, whispering in the ear of whoever might help her position. Jenny Vallancourt is Lucile, Governess to 12 orphans living at the Count and Countess' home and latest object of the Count's wandering eye. She portrays this character well, clearly not from the same social class as the others. Dylan Crow is Hero, The Count's longtime best friend. In a disturbing seduction scene in act two where the artifice so carefully maintained previously is stripped away piece by piece, he is nothing short of brilliant. Erik Meixelsperger is Damiens, Lucile's former guardian, and Scott Shomaker is Villebosse, playing Harlequin, the Countess' plaything. Both of these roles are underwritten, so it is hard to judge performances when the author doesn't offer much in the way of opportunities.
Director Ashley Teague is an inspired choice for this piece. The cast all seem to grasp the many layers of Anouilh's intrigue and convey it clearly, no mean feat. Scenic design by Jeffrey Weber minimally conveys an ornate country chateau. Sumptuous costumes by Sofia Gonzalez mostly outfit the actors for the play within the play, ornate and of the period for Marivaux's restoration comedy. Lighting design by Chris McVicker is excellent all the way through, but reaches its zenith in the seduction scene, helping to make it harrowing. I was able to understand almost every word, no easy task for this hearing impaired sixty something, thanks to Patricia Delorey's voice and dialect coaching.
One thing I will take away from this production of The Rehearsal is that I love Theater of the Absurd, and luckily I did not have to travel far to see this marvelous version at Asolo Conservatory.
Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training's The Rehearsal, through March 11, 2018, at the Cook Theater in the FSU Center, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL. For more information visit www.asolorep.org or call the box office at 941-351-8000
Cast: The Countess: Olivia Osol*