Friday, May 07, 2010

ACT: Round and Round the Garden

American Conservatory Theater
Round and Round the Garden
by Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by John Rando

René Augesen (Ruth)
Anthony Fusco (Reg)
Marcia Pizzo (Sarah)
Manoel Felciano (Norman)
Dan Hiatt (Tom)
Delia MacDougall (Annie)

6 May 2010 8pm

While ACT's current production of Alan Ayckbourn's Round and Round the Garden is not as funny as I would have wished, the play's humor holds up despite being over 35 years old. Looking past the laughs, I think it's a pretty harsh view of marriage. At the end of the play Tom, the country vet, clumsily proposes to Annie with a coil of heavy rope slung over his shoulder, symbolizing the constraints of marriage.

I thought that Dan Hiatt's Tom, while decidedly dim, was not quite obtuse enough. I was more convinced by Anthony Fusco's put-upon Reg. René Augesen was a fine comedienne as Ruth. The production has a few saucy moments. Sarah's knickers end up around her ankles while she struggles with Norman in Act I, & Norman is unable to straighten up due to an erection in his pants. The action takes place on a single set showing the back of a country house. The set is attractive & has many realistic details. The presence of the off-stage mother is implied by lights going on & off in the upper story. We only hear the meowing of the cat up a tree in the 1st act, but he makes a brief appearance on the top of the garden wall at the beginning of Act II

My theater companion, who had recently seen a reading of the entire Norman Conquests trilogy, thought that this play had the best story arc of the 3, though we agreed that Table Manners is the funniest one. The evening whetted my appetite for the Shotgun Player's staging of the full trilogy in August.

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