Sunday, January 25, 2009

Figaro in DC: Let's Play... Master and Servant

A couple quick notes about Constellation Theatre Company's production of The Marriage of Figaro, which I saw last night at The Source Theater over on 14th Street in Washington, D.C.

The first note is go see it. This production has the twin virtues of aiming high (it's not the easiest play to do in 2009) and doing so with irrepressible high spirits.

The second note is why I threw out a bit of Depeche Mode in the title to this post. There are a few paths that a director can take when tackling The Marriage of Figaro in the early 21st Century. One is to accentuate some of the items that I ticked off in my preview post: the forebodings of tumult and revolution, the perversions and terrors of the vulgar aristocracy, the sense of a society that's just about to have the gaudy ribbons and flecks of gold paint stripped off of its surface to reveal the cesspool underneath.

But The Marriage of Figaro (or perhaps the "Mar-i-ahh-ge," to steal a bit of comic phrasing from this production's Marceline -- Nanna Ingvarsson) is also a sturdy and subversive sex farce -- and director Allison Ardell Stockman unleashes the comedy and confrontation of sexual politics in her take on the play. The play of high and low class -- and especially gender politics -- is what animates Stockman's take on Beaumarchais.

As I mentioned, this Figaro boasts a casts that romps high-spiritedly through the doors and windows and sculptures crafted by scenic and lighting designer A.J. Guban. The women -- Katy Carkuff's Suzanne, Mistory Demory's Countess Almaviva, Rachel Lee Poole's Fanchette and Ingvarsson's Marceline -- are fully in control of the situation and play it that way. And the men -- especially Jonathon Church's Count Almaviva and Joe Brack's Figaro -- make the act of finding themselves in holes and making further (and futile) use of their shovels very entertaining.

The two and a half hours of Constellation's Figaro fly by -- and the cuts made by Stockman and dramaturg Christy Denny keep things moving along at a speedy clip without sacrificing too many twists and turns. It's a boisterous production that's brimming with great performances and even greater collective fun. Tickets here.

No comments: