- OnStage Massachusetts Columnist
Peterborough NH - Written and directed by Charles Morey this farce entitled: The Ladies Man, is based on the many plays written by French playwright Georges Feydeau in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It combines the classic elements of mistaken identities, misinformation, and misunderstandings with many slamming doors; actively inviting the audience to laugh at the misfortunes of the characters while relating to some of the relationships portrayed. Although the audience laughed aloud and seemed to enjoy this production, reminiscent of the Marx Brothers, for me it did not meet the higher quality of other shows performed this season.
The story revolves around the mature Dr. Hercule Molineaux (Anderson Matthews), the small lie he tells his young wife Yvonne (Karron Graves), after staying out all night and the chaos that ensues when the lie erupts out of control. The cast also features David Breitbarth as Dr. Molineaux’s long time valet Etienne, Susan Riley Stevens as the new house maid Marie, Kraig Swartz as Bassinet, a patient with a severe lisp and Dale Hodges as Yvonne’s domineering mother, Madame Aigreville. Kate Hampton played another patient, Suzanne Aubin, who has in mind an affair with the good doctor, and Tom Frey played her Prussian Soldier husband Gustav Aubin. This energetic cast embraced the over the top comedy within their dialogue and actions. The doctor is a sympathetic character who somehow seemed to continually find himself in a compromising position either physically or verbally. His situation was not helped by his patient Bassinet who was always around to add to the confusion. Both Matthews and Swartz excelled in these roles to the delight of the audience.
While the show was meant to be a farce there were a few confusing points: the show takes place in Paris and therefore, with the exception of the Prussian Gustav Aubin, it would be assumed that the rest of the characters would all have French accents. However, this was not the case as only Etienne consistently had a French accent while the others sounded British with a few French flourishes. Secondly, Frey, as the Prussian Officer, had a German accent that was so thick; most of what he said could not be clearly understood. It is unsure to the viewer if this was purposefully done to increase the comedy of the play or if it just happened to occur.
The set, designed by Harry Feiner, featured five doors that were excessively used throughout the production as characters entered, exited and slammed them in each other’s faces. The first act and end of the second act takes place in the home office of Dr. Molineaux, while the start of the second act takes place in a dress shop. The set transition in act two going from the dress shop to the office was jumbled and lengthy. The actors themselves, in addition to the stage hands, converted the space in what appeared to be a confusing bridge of one scene to the next. Overall, the show does contain many amusing, farcical elements and double entendres which the mature audience seemed to enjoy. ©
The Ladies Man plays on the Peterborough Players stage, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, NH, until August 28th. For tickets call the box office at 603-924-7585 or check out www.PeterboroughPlayers.org
For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/