Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Fools"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2009 by Tony Annicone

"Fools"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Welcome to the village of Kulyenchikov, Russia.(in the Ukraine) It is 1891 and Leon Tolchinsky is ecstatic to have landed a teaching job there. The only problem is the people of the village have been under a curse for 200 years and every person he meets is dumber than the last one Leon meets Snetsky, the sheep loser, Mishkin, the postlady, Slovitch the butcher and Yenchna the vendor. He has been hired by Dr. Zubritsky and his wife, Lenya to tutor their daughter, Sophia and he is immediately lovestruck.Alas, she proves to be just as unintelligent as the rest of them, if not more so. The people of the village are also incapable of loving. The curse was placed on the village by Vladimir Yousekevitch after his son killed himself. If Leon can't educate Sophia within 24 hours, he, too, will fall victim to the curse. The only other way out is if she marries a Yousekevitch. This is the plot line of Bristol Theatre's summer show "Fools", a light hearted romantic comedy written by Neil Simon. The show was allegedly written under an agreement Simon made with his wife during their divorce proceedings that he promised her the profits of his next show, so he attempted to write something that never would last on Broadway. The show opened on April 6, 1981 and ran 40 performances. Under the direction of Pat Hetu, her 10 member cast pulls off this show with ease. The result of her direction is laughter during these proceedings.

Pat thinks up many clever bits of shtick for the performers to do to keep the laughter flowing, adding 5 cute children ( Alex and Dominic Campagna, Emily and Tyler Fleet and Brian Francis who also plays Yenchna's cow) to play games and decorate for the wedding.(I haven't seen Pat in many years, having appeared with her in "Mame" at Academy Players in 1984.) Charles Lafond is wonderful as Leon. I directed him as Don Baker in Butterflies Are Free in 2005 for Theatre Works and also reviewed him as Eugene Jerome in "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and as Christopher Wren in "Mousetrap". He delivers his enormous amount of dialogue with the warmth the role requires. Charles' facial reactions and expressions with other cast members is topnotch. Ashley Dougan plays Leon's love interest Sophia. She is a gorgeous brunette who makes this very stupid girl an appealing one. You root for her to learn more than how to sit down in a chair and when she realizes what true love is all about, she is hopefully on the right track. Sophia's parents are played by veteran performers, Ed Carusi and Maggie Peruto who as the doctor and his wife show how they are almost as dumb as their daughter. They play off one another very well and when he tells her to lower her voice and she stoops down to speak to him is very funny. Their crazy antics will keep you laughing all night long.(I appeared with Ed in "See How They Run" at the Newport Playhouse and "Tony And Tina's Wedding" for Academy Players.)

The other characters are loony, too. The first person Leon meets in this crazy village is Snetsky played excellently by Ryan Hanley who isn't a sheepherder, he is a sheep loser whose name is Something Something Snetsky. Ryan is the biggest scene stealer in the show and he can handle comic roles as well as dramatic roles having reviewed him as Nicholas in "Over the River and Through the Woods", as Barry in "The Boys Next Door" and as Hal in "Proof". Rob Roy is funny as Slovitch the butcher who sweeps dirt into his shop. The magistrate is well played by Ryan DeWolfe who usually musically directs for Bristol. Pamela Morgan as Mishkin, the postlady who has an urgent letter for Leon which saves the day. Carrie Moody is Yenchna,the vendor. She sells flowers as fish and umbrellas in the first act and in the second she tries to milk her cow. Last but not least is Kevin Killavey as Count Gregor Yousekevitch who is dressed in fake black eyebrows and an overcoat who tries to woo the lass from Leon. I directed his parents in 2007 in "Cheaters" at the Newport Playhouse. (I had fun directing this show back in 1995.) So for an entertaining farcical evening of merriment be sure to catch, "Fools" in Bristol.

"Fools" (7 - 16 August)
BRISTOL THEATRE COMPANY
Roger Williams University Performing Arts Center, 1 Ferry Road, BRISTOL RI
1 (401)965-9292

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