note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Beverly Creasey
2010 is off to a grand start with two first rate productions.
Nora Hussey’s delightful production of PRIVATE LIVES (at Wellesley Summer Theatre through Jan. 31st) Americanizes the British accents without losing any of the sophistication of Noel Coward’s naughty, haughty dialogue. Derek Stone Nelson plays the honeymooning English aristocrat with just the right touch of suave disdain. We know, even before he does, that he’ll soon tire of his silly, young, American bride (Heather Boas with a marvelously excruciating whine).
Enter his ex, the gorgeous, mercurial Amanda, portrayed with silky grandeur by Cheryl Turski. You could cut the mutual attraction with a knife. As Amanda would say, they’ve always had that “chemical watchamacallem.” The two collateral spouses don’t stand a chance. There’s Boas, bawling into her sleeve and Danny Bolton braying and bellowing hollow threats as Amanda’s insufferably pompous husband. Everyone gets a sensational fight scene, thanks to choreographer Hugh Long. Even Ashley Gramolini as the infuriated maid gets to blow up and polish off an Art Deco potted plant!
Director Daniel Gidron’s crack version of the thriller GROUNDSWELL (at the Lyric Stage Company through Jan. 30th) is a must-see. Timothy John Smith ratchets up the suspense as two down on their luck South-Africans set out to fleece a vacationing exec. Jason Bowen is yin to Smith’s scary yang as the naïve dreamer who goes along with his friend’s psycho get-rich scheme. Richard McElvain is a revelation as the retired widower blindsided by the “groundswell” of violence percolating in post-Apartheid South Africa.
The beauty of Ian Bruce’s clever play is that you don’t feel like you’re getting a lesson in political socio-economics while you’re caught up in his darn good yarn.