Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Fools"

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note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Larry Stark


"Fools"

by Neil Simon
Directed by Joe DeMita

Set Design by Joe DeMita
Costume Design by Brian Milauskas
Lighting Design by James Petty
Props Design by Julia Rocha
Makeup Design by Kaitlyn MacPherson
Dialect Coach Joanne Alvarez
Master Carpenter Todd Page
Assistant Stage Managers Emily Monroe, Julia Rocha, Corey Simpson
Production Stage Manager Tina Cerosimo

Leon Tolchinsky...........................Nate Johnson
Snetskaya............................AnneMarie Alvarez
Magistrate....Steve Turner (Christopher Matthue Smith)
Slovitch.....................................Tom Rimer
Mishkin..................................Frank Consolo
Yenchna..................................Andrea Webber
Dr. Zubritsky....................Peter Cosmas Sofronas
Lenya Zubritsky...........................Dorothy Ahle
Sophia Zubritsky.......................Jamianne Devlin
Gregor Youskevitch.........................Steven Dyer

After an early career as a t-v sketch-writer, Neil Simon dominated community theaters with decades of safe-sexual comedies, and laugh-studded autobiographies. Despite little-noted lunges at serious plays ("The Gingerbread Lady" "Jake's Women") he's considered the ultimate light-weight commedian. But The Friends United developing Genuine Entertainment Theatre Company (F.U.D.G.E.) have found a unique Simon experiment. Subtitled "A Comic Fable," "Fools" uses all the stylistic simplicities of children's theater telling a witty tale that keeps a grown-up audience groaning at a flood of sophisticated puns.

Jim Petty has given the group a spotlight into which characters step to explain stuff directly to the audience. First there's the new schoolteacher for the old Russian town of Kulyenchikov (Nate Johnson), who is eager to teach mathematics, history, astronomy --- only to discover that a 200-year curse has made the entire town a witless bunch of stupids. Like the fish-monger (Andrea Weber) monging flowers because "...the fisherman had no luck today; should I go hungry?" Her cart's full instead of flowers, but selling a spray she says "Here, take this white-fish" since it is a spray with White petals. The butcher (Frank Consolo) opening up pointedly sweeps dirt Into his shop. There's a doctor (Peter Cosmas Sofronas) with a lovely young daughter (Jamianne Devlin); there's a nobleman (Steve Dyer), who proposes daily, insisting that if he and Sophia --- descendents of the pair that brought on the curse --- were to marry, it would be lifted. But at first sight the teacher is smitten --- though if he's not successful in winning her he (and everyone in the audience!) will join the village in stupidity.
Got all that?

On Joe DeMita's crammed yet flexible two-story quick-sketch set, he directs a glibly light-hearted cast breezing past so many groaners and overly logical inconsistencies minds boggle. So what if Simon breaks his own rules tying up all his loose ends. There Is a happy ending --- well, except that clear-eyed reality has problems stupidity often avoids.
At least in fables.
Well, in This fable by Neil Simon, anyway.
And fun is Fun, right? RIGHT?!?!?
Right!

Love,
===Anon.

"Fools" (30 January - 7 February)
THE F.U.D.G.E. THEATRE COMPANY
@ The Factory Theatre, off Northampton Street, BOSTON, MA
1(781) 245 - 0500

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