note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Beverly Creasey
TRAVESTIES is one of my all time favorite plays. Tom Stoppard contrived to have Lenin, James Joyce and the Dada poet Tristan Tzara all converge in one wonderful farce (which includes THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST). I’m in theatrical heaven since I studied Russian and read Joyce at B.U., played Cecily at the B.U. Summer Theatre and romped with the art students from the Institute next door. Oh, and I studied revolution with Howard Zinn and Murray Levin. It was the ‘60s, after all. Sometimes I think Mr. Stoppard wrote TRAVESTIES just for me!
If you’re not up on your world history or your Oscar Wilde, you may be at a momentary loss---but not for long, in director Diego Arciniegas’ cheeky take on Stoppard’s “intellectual vaudeville” (playing at the BCA through May 3rd). Tristan Tzara says he fears that “war has put an end to cleverness.” He needn’t have worried. Cleverness abounds in the Publick production, right down to a hilarious one-dimensional train with passengers Georg Grosz could have painted and an oddball tip of the hat to vaudevillians, Gallagher and Sheehan.
What a cast the Publick has assembled! Nigel Gore is a whirlwind as Henry Carr, the reminiscing civil servant, or spy, or stage star: He lays claim to them all. Gore delights us with Carr’s embellished memories and delicious wordplay. Alejandro Simoes is as quirky as his poetry as the surrealist poet and Derry Woodhouse is devilishly pinched as the righteous Mr. Joyce. Molly Schrieber and Lynn Guerra make Cecily and Gwendolen sparkle. Gabriel Kuttner and Lorna Noguiera capture the sober intensity of the Russians---and their pronunciation is perfect. Best of all is Dafydd Rees as the condescending butler. You couldn’t find a better manservant anywhere, not even for “ready money.”