note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Beverly Creasey
Reviewed by Beverly Creasey
The Nora Theatre Company is giving Mike Leigh's "Smelling A Rat" a bang-up reception with a production that gets this "anti-farce" off the ground. Maybe Leigh calls "Rat" an "anti-farce" in as much as it's anti-climactic! But until the perplexing finish, when the actors quietly exit without so much as a by your leave! (I wondered why they didn't exit into into Eric Levenson's nifty contiguous closets) you'll see some first rate comic performances in and out of all kinds of closets (water- and clothes- alike) escaping from intruders.
Mind, I'm a fan of Mike Leigh's movies, so I expected more fireworks (just between me and you and the gatepost). But Leigh knows how to write characters --- the best of which are Mara Sidmore's hilarious personification of the word "hysteric", and Paul Kerry's dead-on, obtusely motor-mouthed, Monty Pythonesque lower class twit of an exterminator.
Director Daniel Gidron adds ingenious touches --- like Sidmore's albatross (which she hangs about her neck, of course!), and Randall Forsythe's unending unpacking, which opens the play. To paraphrase Kerry's Mr. Maggot, "Rat ain't gonna get the pig a new bonnet" --- but the Boston cast proves that ignorance IS bliss. What a treat to watch these actors shine.