British playwright Alan Ayckbourn has thrown a big challenge to theatres brave and capable enough to handle his two new plays: Gather a team of actors to perform two plays simultaneously on two stages before two different audiences.
In Trinity’s case, the Chase Theatre sits over the Dowling Theatre, requiring the actors to climb up and down stairs to meet their cues on time and requiring director Brian McEleny to do the work of two.
In reality, the audience watching one play knows little about what is going on below or above them, except for a voice giving the actors directions between scenes…and an occasional out-of-breath actor hitting his or her spot at precisely the right moment.
We saw “House” this week and will report on “Garden” next week.
Fred Sullivan Jr. plays the philandering Teddy Platt, whose affair with Joanna, his best friend’s wife (Angela Brazil) has caused his wife, Trish (Anne Scurria), to give him the silent treatment, to the point of not acknowledging his presence.
Poor Giles Mace (Stephen Thorne) hasn’t got a clue as to what is going on behind his back, to the point of seeking marital advice from his best friend.
Meanwhile, Teddy is preparing for a luncheon with Lucille Cadeau, a famous French film actress (Phyllis Kay) and novelist Gavin Ryng-Mane (Joe Wilson Jr.). To further muddy the waters, Teddy and Trish’s daughter (Bridget Saracino) is being wooed by Joanna and Giles Mace’s son.
Don’t be confused by all the interactions and sub-plots (We haven’t even mentioned the two maids (Janice Duclos and Catherine Dupont). What we get is a whirlwind plot involving marital infidelity and how family members respond.
Oh yes. The novelist is trying to convince Teddy to run for a cabinet post with a morality platform, while pandemonium takes place all around him.
There are some funny lines in the play, which takes off too slowly, but gains steam along the way. With so much going on and so many characters, I thought the story at times lost its focus. It does address the issue as to how much a spouse can take before saying, “I’ve had enough!”
“House” is at Trinity Rep through June 30. You can see one play without seeing the other, as the two stand alone. But what’s the fun in that?
Call 351-4242 for reservations.