Actors and Marionettes
Noel Coward’s play revolves around the character of Gary Essendine who is the star of his own life as well as the many stages he has dominated. Actor Stephen Brennan plays Essendine with aplomb, both in is his humor in the impeccable British delivery, and in his physicality. To watch him skip, slink, and posture throughout the various scenes where the people who love him—and really exist because of him—is to be completely riveted, regardless of whether the story has any significance or not. Nothing actually substantial occurs in the three-hour play, but the bantering and back-handedness of the social storm is enough in the end to feel as though not a moment was wasted.
Director Alan Stanford has expertly maneuvered a stellar cast with commanding comedic performances by all who come in and out of Essendine’s flat, which is beautifully designed by Eileen Diss.
Especially wonderful are the woman who can’t live without the man that continues to drive them either wild, or at least keep them from being bored in their well coiffed lives dressed in the most stunning costumes by Peter O’Brien. Most likable are Fiona Bell as the secretary who manages the chaos, and Paris Jefferson who plays the ex-wife who can’t seem to get away even as various lovers spin through the leading man’s revolving door.
I was also able to catch The Carlo Colla and Sons Marionette Company’s performance of Philemon and Baucis. The opera, with music by Franz Joseph Haydn, is sung in German and spoken in English and tells the story of a young couple who are struck by lightning and both die on their wedding day. Their bereft parents are visited by the God Jupiter and his son Mercury who ultimately bring the young lovers back to life.
The music conducted by Danilo Lorenzini fills the theatre with a wonderful score. The voices of tenor, Hugo Vera, and soprano, Monica Yunus, especially bring life to the inanimate players. It is not until the end, as 12 puppeteers and the rest of the company enter for bows, that you can truly appreciate the work and talent that goes on behind a production like this.
Get tickets at www.spoletousa.org