Two plays. Two theatres. Two stories. One cast.
Last week I told you about the clever “House,” being performed in Trinity’s upstairs theatre, while “Garden” was being performed at the same time downstairs….and with the same cast.
While I enjoyed “House,” I absolutely loved “Garden.”
And while British playwright Alan Ayckbourn’s plays stand alone and one may be seen without seeing the other, the fun is seeing what is going on in the garden while the action also takes place in the house…and vice versa.
A theatre friend of mine said that “House” is like a Noel Coward play, while “Garden” is more like the Three Stooges.
Entering the Dowling Theatre is truly like entering a garden. Two enormous trees fill the stage and droop over the audience. There’s a broken down fountain in the center, grass and bushes.
Enter Joanna Mace (Angela Brazil) and the laughs begin immediately as we watch this frazzled woman try to deal with her affair with her husband’s best friend, leading to her trip into La La Land. Characters with minor roles in “House” emerge with bigger ones that are more central to the story.
While an important luncheon is going on above, event planners (Ted Moller and Mary C. Davis) are setting up for a major charity event. The two products of the Brown/Trinity acting program are enormously funny together, without a lot of dialogue, and add so much to the play.
Poor Giles (Stephen Thorne) learns of his wife’s affair and doesn’t know how to deal with it. Meanwhile, his wife’s lover (Fred Sullivan Jr.) has taken up with a French actress (Phyllis Kay) with equally hilarious results.
After seeing the more subdued humor first, I was ready for the chaos of “Garden” and glad I saw them in that order. My wife wants to go back and see “House” again and further appreciate the hard work, talents and synchronizing that went into the two plays. I would love to see a video of the three stage managers directing the cast backstage and running up and down the stairs.
It all comes together and the craziness works. There’s lots more fun packed into the play, but I’ll leave that for you to discover.
“Garden,” along with “House,” is at Trinity Rep through June 30. The actors and crew deserve a long vacation after that. For reservations call 351-4242.