|The Concord Journal|
|Concord Players' latest production 'one of their best'|
|By Parkman Howe|
Journal Theater Reviewer
One-dimensional characters, absurd plot twists, contrived meetings of long lost friends, the completely expected 'unexpected appearance,' false identities that fool no one, the airy acceptance of the irrational -- these are just a few of the reasons why audiences have always loved farce. In fact, life at its best approaches farce.
The Concord Players have staged many fine productions, but this spring's "See How They Run," a farce in three acts, currently at 51 Walden St., is surely one of their best. The curtain rises on the glorious sitting room of a 1946 English vicarage of which the BBC itself would be proud.
Set designers D. Schweppe and John Barrett as well as their crews are to be congratulated. One of the eventing's many pleasures lies in noticing such details as the shelf on the wall glimpsed through the swinging pantry door.
The cast is, to put it plainly, remarkable. Occasionally there are performances where one forgets that the actors are acting; they simply become their characters. The entire cast of "See How They Run" manages to make the play come alive. Given what the play askes us believe, this is no mean feat.
Where to begin? Robin Rhodes makes the Cockney quirks of the maid Ida a delight to watch and hear throughout the evening. Her only fault is that she isn't on long enought. Sarah Kindleberger is the sort of actress of whom it used to be said, "they don't make 'em like this anymore." They still do. Her passionate, frustrated Miss Skillon defies description. When you see it, however, you will believe it.
Jonathan Ashford is the Reverend Lionel Toop, a desperately mild-mannered man desperately wronged. He takes his revenge dressed in his underwear, by Jove, wielding a poker. Susan Ellsworth plays his breezy American wife, Penelope, with an elastic energy that acts as the play's superglue, holding together these birds of very different feather.
Nick Grant plays the dashingly (I use the word advisedly) handsome American Corporal Clive Winton. He looks perfection, does nothing right, and even blows getting the girl at the end -- in short, he's completely lovable.
I have known bishops like Shep Wenglin's Bishop of Lax. So has Mr. Wenglin, apparently. He plays his bishop with the moral rectitude of a cold bowl of porridge at a college dining hall food fight.
Normally, when a new character appears mid-way through a play, the audience groans inwardly -- another entire personality to come to terms with. I would seriously suggest, however, that the cast rewrite the play to get Ray Van Vorse on sooner. His Reverend Arthur Humphrey turns understatement into a megaphone. Do not miss the way which he takes off his hat and scarf.
Ron Mitchell as Sergeant Towers has that choicest of parts -- the straight man who comes on at the end to ask what's going on. Roles like this put the python in Monty Python.
All of this characterization ultimately proceeds from the director's imagination, and John Barrett, the play's director, has choreographed the exits, entrances and stage business within an inch of their lives, or less. And it's only in the final inch that such plays flourish. Even with two intermissions the show is fast. Mr. Barrett never disappoints our craving to know what happens in the next two seconds. He has a hefty dash of low vaudeville cunning which never fails to delight.
See this show, and you will know what British reviewers used to mean by "rattling good time had by all."