Transcript: Connie Meng Review aired Monday, June 27, 2005
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Depot Theatre, Westport

ENGAGED, the comic farce about Edwardian society by W.S.Gilbert of "Gilbert and Sullivan" fame is full of satirical humor. It has a remarkable resonance with today's materialistic society, despite the fact that it uses period language and is played in the style of the period. Even with all its farcical humor and ridiculous plot complexities, at bottom the play makes it clear that all the relationships are about money and in these characters' eyes money equals happiness.

ENGAGED is much funnier than most contemporary farces, perhaps partly because of its pointed social commentary. Consider the leading man's comment on marriage. "Marriage is like a lawsuit. Once you're in you can't get out and the expenses are enormous." He has an uncontrollable habit of proposing, which gets him in trouble with an obscure Scotch marriage law.

Speaking of Scotch, three of the characters speak with an almost impenetrable Scotch accent. I was told by one of the actors that the roles are written in dialect that's designed to be unintelligible. No matter - it's quite clear what's going on.

Chris Clavelli's set for Act I has a distinct period feel with its mountain drop and stone walls. Act II's set is a spiffy Edwardian drawing room, well lit by Iain Whitecross. Jean Brookman's costumes are lovely and right on target for the period.

As I've come to expect at the Depot Theatre, the cast is very strong. The three Scots, Carrie Treadwell with her naive flirtatiousness, Tom Bolster with his fits of over emotional weeping and Shami McCormick with her subtle and very funny reactions are all very good. They're also fluent and consistent in the strange dialect.

Christine Siracusa as Belinda and Amanda Jones as Minnie are both excellent as fluttery delicate ladies who are actually tough as nails when it comes to marriage and finance. Rick Ford as Symperson, a man willing to bargain away his daughter and Price Waldman as Belvawney, a pseudo-romantic seeker for a wealthy wife, are also excellent.

Chris Flockton is wonderful as Cheviot Hill - the very name makes me giggle. To mis-quote a lyric, when he's not near the girl he loves, he loves the girl he's near. He's very good with both the style and the language. Mr. Flockton's constant and constantly failing attempts to control his amorous impulses are both hilarious and believable.

As a matter of fact, all the characters are believable. Director John Christopher Jones obviously believes, as I do, that farce must be grounded in reality in order to be genuinely funny. These actors are playing characters, not caricatures. Director Jones keeps the pace lively, the complex plot machinations spinning along and the laughs coming. The Depot Theatre made a good choice to open their season.

On a scale of one to five the Depot Theatre production of ENGAGED gets four and three-fourths boxcars. For North Country Public Radio I'm Connie Meng.

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