The three styles of comedy on display at Dunster House this weekend balance one another perfectly. It is a sensitive and sensible journey from the ravaging whimsy of Pinter to the mystical Aria da Capo to the smoking humour of Sheridan's The Critic.
Pinter's Lovers is about Sarah (Mary Moss) and Richard (David Tresemer) who snuff out their imaginary lovelifes with all the thrilling bile of a child smashing his toys--and all the satisfaction. The waste of suburban life has been spilled on stage before but Pinter's prim yet wrenching method invests the slush with a startling grace.
Such a crafted and crafty play makes great demands on actors but Mary Moss and David Tresemer, under Bruce Boucher's fluid direction, keep the tiny bubbles of action and mood coiling through the five short scenes. Mary Moss in particular is a streaming red-haired wine of a woman and it's worth the price of admission just to see her struggle with a zipper as she fits into a black dress.
Aria da Capo (literal translation: song from the top of the head.) by Edna St. Vincent Millary trifles elegantly around the theme of deceit--and so succeeds in shocking. Peopled by the likes of the menacing Colthurnus (David Palmer) the phantom prompter of the play-within-the-play and the stock, intuitively and irrepressibly daft Pierrot and Columbine figures, played by Jeffrey Blum and Lorraine James, of the play-without-the-play, the production seemed to slow down irreparably midway through. But Dean Ahmed, directing, manages to frame an unexpected climax to end the play on a note of crotchety sarcasm. The vivid costumes and masks were designed by Ellie Meglio.
The Critic (Third Act only) was Sheridan's grotesque caricature of the epic drama of his time. The laughs are predictably broad and deftly induced by Jim Brook, the director. Bob Edgar, as Mr. Puff the playwright trembling with glee at his own handiwork, wiggled and strutted, winsomely uproarious. His fresh exuberance was catching and the production number of a sea battle on the Thames, burst into high farce.
The sets, starkly colorful in their clarity were all designed by Jim Rayland and should serve as an examplary prod to the creativity of House production designers. The well known Al Symonds did the lighting--I hope one need not say any more because I'm not qualified to.