By Thorton Wilder
The crafty scheming of Dolly Levy turns the world of Horace Vandergelder’s Hay and Feed storeupside down in this wild farce. Full of opening and closing doors, ridiculous disguises andmistaken identities , this comedy served as the inspiration for Hello Dolly. Traveling at “break-neck” speed, the play celebrates Thorton Wilder’s belief in shaking things up,taking chances, and living.
January 17 – February 8, 2014
DIRECTOR: ERIC FRAISER HAYES
What The Critics Have Said About Our Last Production
Review: Role Players Ensemble delivers big laughs with ‘Lettice and Lovage’
By Pat Craig ~ Correspondent
As we have all probably learned over the years, the truth isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.
That lesson is better taught, and a whole lot funnier, in Peter Shaffer’s wildly successful 1987 comedy, “Lettice and Lovage,” which set records in England before coming to the United States in 1990. Now, it’s onstage at Danville’s Village Theatre, where Role Players Ensemble presents a beautifully mounted and hilarious production of the show.
Miss Lettice Douffet (Sylvia Burboeck), an expert is Elizabethan cuisine and an enthusiastic fan of the era, is saddled with the job of being a docent and tour guide for Fustian House in Wiltshire, England, considered the dullest historical attraction in the entire country.
So Douffet, who was raised by a flamboyant actress mother, decides to do the only reasonable thing:give tours of the house the old razzle-dazzle or, for those unfamiliar with the show-business practice, lie, fabricate and make stuff up. For example, she tells visitors, a brief visit by the virgin queen to the estate would have been a fatal disaster had the master of the house not leaped up a flight of stairs to catch her when she tripped (not true).
But since the public trust that operates the old home has this fusty policy about being truthful with visitors, Miss Charlotte Schoen (Beth Chastain), Douffet’s boss, takes in one of the presentations and immediately invites the truth-challenged tour guide to London and dismisses her.
A few weeks later, concerned with how her former employee is doing, Schoen pays a visit to Douffet’s home. There, she finds Douffet in period costume, her entire home decorated with period trappings, petting her cat and being slightly befuddled by most technology developed after the 15th century.
Douffet invites Schoen into her appealingly crazy world. And after a flagon or two of Douffet’s Elizabethan booze, Schoen begins to see the magic in the former employee’s world.
The rest of the story is better seen than heard (or read about), starting with Robert Bo Golden’s magnificent sets, which include a masterwork creation of Douffet’s “dungeon” apartment, along with the historic house and Schoen’s office. Also setting the tone are the costumes, by Lisa Danz, who goes delightfully over the top with Lettice’s period togs.
Phoebe Moyer, a familiar Bay Area director and performer, beautifully creates the slightly skewed world of Douffet and has her characters move through it in an enticing way. She also places some of her characters in the audience, adding humor and intimacy to the piece.
And Chastain and Burboeck are simply wonderful as the odd couple, deftly playing the show and its daftness for all it’s worth. Supporting performers are equally strong, adding touches of additional craziness to the show as Elinor Bell (Miss Framer), Schoen’s all-fearing clerk, and John Blytt (Mr. Bardolph), the somewhat dense and single-minded public defender who gets involved later in the show.