Pacific Resident Theatre Presents
By Jean Anouilh
ARDELE by Debbi K. Swanson Santa Monica Outlook
It’s good to have director Alec Doyle back at work in Venice, his previous works being done at Beyond Baroque, just next door to Pacific Resident Theater where he is now directing another PRT hit, Jean Anouilh’s rarely performed social comedy, “Ardele.” The collection of misbegotten adulterous souls of 1912 is led by the bombastic General, played with boundless energy by Richard Fancy . Despite a couple of missed lines, he busily bosses everyone around while his invalid wife Emily, in this case more emotionally invalidated than a physical invalid, screams out his name every 10 minutes. This out of her completely correct assumption that he is off somewhere with yet another woman. When poor Emily, played by Sharron Shayne, finally appears, she is just a little too plugged into the mating habits of the universe for her own good and her hysteria in front of the entire family makes for a great scene. With quotes like “It takes a certain greatness to be truly base,” and the classic, “Something tells me we’re going astray,” you can visualize the air of pomposity as a house full of characters make asses of themselves. The glacial maid, Ada, played by Cheryl Dooley, couldn’t care less about the General, but indulges him. Meanwhile, his sister, the Countess, played by a brisk and in-charge Kathleen Garrett, arrives with her husband, Gaston, Michael Rothhaar — and with her insecure extra-marrital liaison, Villardieu, played by the toothy-grinned Dudley Do-Right-ish Robert Lee Jacobs. The intimidated Gaston, meanwhile, has his little powderpuff stashed in town until he can get out to see her and sneaks phone calls only to hear her threaten suicide.And there’s also Natalie and Nicholas (Shannon Fill and David Rogge) who should’ve married but didn’t, and now are caught in the passion of regret. All of these blind obsessives are there to discuss what’s happened with the never seen Aunt Ardele, now that she’s fallen in love. This bittersweet situation illuminates this family’s foolishness. In the end, the seeds of the misbegotten have been sown, as all of this base behavior is dutifully copied by the youngest members of the family, a boy and girl (Jessie Clemens and Will Rothhaar) who act out the twisted love/hate relationships of their darling progenitors. Kurt Wahlner’s set makes the most out of a little space by creating an upstairs/downstairs, with Deena Lynn Mullen’s effective lighting, Alexander Enberg’s plentiful sound effects and Audrey Eisner’s costumes.
1 LA Drama Critics Circle Award
6 Drama-Logue Awards
LA Weekly Pick of the Week
Critics Pick: Backstage West