See it if:
You'd like a fresh & innovative take on this classic, both wry & modern delivered tongues firmly in cheeks by a wonderful & versatile cast.
Don't see it if:
You've no imagination, no ear for the music of language, no desire to see inventive, joyous actors sharing that joy — or need to see period furniture.
This is by far one of the best productions of this classic we're likely to see for some time to come, and certainly one of the most inventive in staging, approach and execution.
A large open space, minimal set, effective lighting and actors milling about the audience at times, place us firmly in the here and now, while the simple evocative costumes nod to some other time elsewhere in the past — all of which serves to free, and focus on, the language, which inspires the interplay and ingenuity of this terrific cast.
The pace and humor are quick, in a style mostly period with occasional, unexpected modern flashes. No tableaux here, the cast sings, plays silly instruments to great effect and, not simply breaking the fourth wall with Restoration asides, at times addresses the audience directly, quickly and several times making it one more integral character in the evening's events. We are all in this together.
Deftly directed by Scott Alan Evans, the well balanced and supportive ensemble has managed to create actual three dimensional characters that just happen to inhabit a comedy of manners world. Jeremy Beck, as the pathologically shy and extroverted Marlow, is almost completely over the top while somehow being utterly believable, vulnerable and sympathetic. Mairin Lee is gorgeous & mesmerizing with her intelligence, wit and presence as Kate Hardcastle; a fascinating actor whose interesting choices make it hard to look elsewhere when she's onstage; or off, for that matter — mind turning, ever-present when the company watches from the sides.
Richard Thieriot's Tony Lumpkin gleefully walks the thin edge of farce without falling into cliché, while Cynthia Darlow's Mrs. Hardcastle pushes past cliché into fresh and very funny territory; and Justine Salata as Miss Neville, Tony Roach as Hastings, James Predergast as the senior Marlow and John Rothman as Hardcastle, all have an emotional depth not usually found in Restoration comedy.
Seeing it a second time, it remains quirky, fun and extremely well done, fresh and modern; Oliver Goldsmith would be happy to have seen this production, and since he can't, everyone else should.