Theatre 40 is on a roll. Each play they produce is funnier than the last, and their latest, The Play’s The Thing, is no exception. Cleverly directed by Melanie McQueen, the nearly 100–year old play glistens anew due to the collective efforts of the designers and actors assembled by David Hunt Stafford.
You may be wondering, “Why revive such a dusty old play?” Luckily, I’m here to fill you in on the satire about the most produced playwright of the period, Dion Boucicault, an Irish playwright with a finger on the pulse of light melodrama. He churned out work at an astonishing pace by adhering to a tried and true — and predictable — format. He became so ubiquitous that several playwrights satirized his work to hilarious effect. The Play’s The Thing was conceived by the Hungarian Ferenc Molnar, and his comedy found an audience in Great Britain in an adaptation by P.G. Wodehouse of “Jeeves and Wooster” fame.
On with the play! For maximum effect, it’s best to arrive as uninformed about the plot as possible, because it’s daunting to describe the twists and turns conceived by the fictional playwright, Sandor Turai (Daniel Leslie), in order to save the engagement of his nephew, Albert Adam (Eric Keitel), to a flirtatious actress (Kristin Towers-Rowles).
The living room setting (by Jeff G. Rack) gives fresh meaning to “drawing room comedy,” as the characters gallop and tumble across the stage, sometimes barely missing each other as the plot dutifully thickens.
In typical Theatre 40 fashion, all the elements come together in two rollicking acts, showing off the talents of the design team that also included Michele Young, Derrick McDaniel and Nick Foran. Go see it! You’ll be glad you did.
The Play’s The Thing performs for two more weeks — Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 2 pm through June 12. Tickets, $35.00, available online at www.theatre40.com. For reservations, call (310)364-0535.