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The Depot Theatre, Westport NY
The Depot Theatre, Westport NY

Theatre Review: "Round and Round the Garden" at the Depot Theatre

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The Depot Theatre in Westport has opened their season with ROUND AND ROUND THE GARDEN running through July 12. Resident theatre critic Connie Meng was at the opening night and has our review.

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Connie Meng
Theatre Critic

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The Depot Theatre has opened its 31st season with Alan Ayckbourn's romantic comedy ROUND AND ROUND THE GARDEN.  Set in the garden of an English country home in 1974, the plot centers around Norman and his escapades with Annie, who lives there caring for her mother, and Sarah, who's married to Annie's brother Reg.  Then there's Tom, a socially inept veterinarian who is smitten with Annie, and finally Ruth, Annie's sister who's married to Norman.  This family is not so much dysfunctional as it is overactive, especially when Norman's around.

Jean Brookman has designed a nicely functional garden set with plenty of space for grappling in the grass.  I liked her costumes, especially Norman's toque.  Gary Burlew has done a nice job with the lighting, as has Eric Hersh with the sound.

What separates the men from the boys in playwrighting is Mr. Ayckbourn's ability to write a very funny sex farce that features three-dimensional characters.  As Sarah, Sandy York has the body language of someone determined to win whatever there is to be won.  Marshall York plays her clownish husband Reg, all elbows and knees, who alternates between bonhomie and huffy impatience.

Caroline Treadwell's Annie has an air of vulnerability but also a contrasting air of strength, combined with occasional dithering.  In other words, she's human.

As the near-sighted Ruth who refuses to wear her glasses, Beth Glover does what amounts to a comic ballet with an intractable lawn chair.  Her lawn chair scene with Tom reveals her quick tongue and cynicism.

Scott Shafer's Tom is the very model of someone who can't ever quite catch on or up.  His proposal scene displays his terrific comic timing.

Christopher Flockton gives us a charming slightly manic Norman.  He's very good in the drunk scene, and the scene with his pajamas is hilarious.  I found myself constantly rooting for him to succeed - I'm not quite sure at what.

John Christopher Jones has done a fine job of directing.  His staging of Norman and Sarah's grappling works very well.  He's helped his actors keep the characters believable.  I'm not going to quote funny lines, since it's not what you say, it's how you say it.  It's amazing how much comic mileage the actors get from "Oh!" and "Ahhh."

These people are all looking for an escape from the boredom of their lives.  During the pinnacle of the sexual revolution the solution, at least for Norman, seems to be lust - even if it's unrequited.  This is a truly funny production and a delightful way to start the summer.  It's a short run, so you only have tonight and Thursday through Sunday to see it.

On a scale of one to five the Depot Theatre production of ROUND AND ROUND THE GARDEN gets four and five-eighths boxcars.  

Since I won't be at the Depot Theatre again till late August, here's a reminder that the musical ALWAYS, PATSY CLINE opens July 17th and the new play HEROES on August 7th.  For North Country Public Radio I'm Connie Meng.

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