by Beverly Creasey
The Lyric Stage Company of Boston is cooking up merry Moliere this January. Director David Fox assembles all the right ingredients: deft comedians, sharp movement, and a charming translation (by Albert Bermel), to bring Moliere's cautionary tale of avarice to light --- yet something is missing in the Lyric's pleasing presentation.
Brent Wachter's sparse set --- three pieces of furniture chained in place --- takes its textual cue literally. Very funny indeed, but the stage seems unnecessarily empty, as if Fox and his company abandoned the joke halfway. I was looking for more chains, but there weren't any.
The actors engage in adorably silly stage business, yielding a lively "Saturday Night Live" Moliere, yet some of the conspiratorial tee-hee-ing goes on a bit too long --- and in farce, timing is everything.
Carping aside, one can't argue with the fine performances of Bob Jolly --- given free reign to whine and carry on as the paranoid miser --- and Neil A. Casey as his delightfully tearful chef/coachman, who takes umbrage to new heights. The entire cast seems to be having great fun outwitting he shrewd penny pincher. From Sheila Stasack's sexy matchmaker to Denise Cormier's flighty ingenue, the cast is a joy to watch. Even the costumes are a giggle, especially Andrew J. Poleszak's reversible hat for the cook/driver. I wouldn't want my miserly praise to keep anyone from seeing "The Miser". It's thoroughly enjoyable; but with that cast, it should be perfect.