Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

The Cottage
Florida Studio Theatre
William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of Scorch

Greg Balla, Anna Stefanic, Tracie Lane,
Drew Hirshfield, Hanley Smith

Photo by Matthew Holler
We are at a cottage in the English countryside in 1923 for a comedy of manners (the kind of thing Noël Coward specialized in), Sandy Rustin's The Cottage. One matrimonially mismatched couple has been in residence for a few days. Another couple (his brother and his wife) join them, then another couple, but separately.

The first act plays well, all characters in period style until the last character, Richard, enters, ostensibly with murder on his mind, at blackout of the first act. He seems to have wandered in from a different play all together, more 1980s-'90s than the earlier period. He is written and dressed out of harmony with the rest of the play and every time he is on stage the balances so beautifully maintained otherwise are askew. Still, there is enough laughter and surprise to keep a summer audience entertained for a couple of hours.

Greg Balla brings the kind of sexual suavity that defined Coward's persona to Beau, the older of the two brothers. Hanley Smith is gloriously in charge as his inamorata Sylvia, deporting herself with a nice sense of period. Drew Hirshfield as younger brother Clarke is delightfully droll, laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, accompanied by Tracie Lane as Marjorie, married to Beau but in love with his brother. The part of Marjorie does not offer lots of opportunities to shine, but Ms. Lane inhabits her well. Anna Stefanic is Deidre, another of Beau's conquests, kewpie-doll cute, and Casey Predovic plays her husband Richard. Whether due to writing or acting, Richard does not seem to belong.

Jason Canon directs well, at least for five of the six characters. Costumes by Abby Parker are gorgeous, a highlight. Scenic design by Andrea Bechert is a touch busy, but stylistically right. Thom Beaulieu's lighting and Thom Korp's Sound design add to a well-crafted production.

The Cottage is a fun throwback to a long ago style and era, a pleasant way to end the Summer Mainstage series. Audiences will get lots of laughs from the sexual escapades of these mismatched couples.

The Cottage, through August 24, 2019, at Florida Studio Theatre, Gompertz Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota FL. For tickets and information, call the box office at 941-366-9000 or visit

Cast (in alphabetical order):
Beau: Greg Balla*
Clarke: Drew Hirshfield*
Marjorie: Tracie Lane*
Richard: Casey Predovic*
Sylvia: Hanley Smith*
Diedre: Anna Stefanic*
*=Member of Actors' Equity Association