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A CurtainUp DC Review
Director Michael Kahn has chosen to adjust Jonson's satire to 21st century farce, using caricatures of real people such as Donald Trump and a silver-tongued evangelist to make both his and Jonson's points about greed and hypocrisy. Contemporary additions to the 400-year old script include a golf club, condoms, crème brulée, Playboy magazine and Viagra. Congratulations to costume designer Murell Horton for his inspired nuttiness and inspired sarcasm and to stage manager M. William Shiner who must use a spread sheet to keep track of all the players' disguises. Set designer James Noone has created a London townhouse worthy of a gentleman. The exterior defines probity while what goes on inside while the owner is absent, makes a tidy list of vices. The set has a grand staircase and more than enough doors for the many entrances and exits for numerous sight gags and other farcical mayhem.
Three characters conspire to relieve the gullible of their wealth with promises of turning precious metals into even more valuable gold: Subtle (the alchemist, played by a manic David Manis, who is nothing like his namesake); Face (seemingly Subtle's accomplice, Michael Milligan, who shows his true acting talent in the final moments of the play); and Dol Common, (Kate Skinner, as the cheesy moll who's up for anything).
Those they dupe include Dapper, a lawyer's clerk, (Nick Cordileone, in a splendid vignette as he morphs from a drone into a gambling hipster), Sir Epicure Mammon (David Sabin, droll as a Donald Trump-like figure), and Tribulation Wholesome (Timothy Thomas, as a telegenic evangelist.) But it is Robert Creighton's Ananias, the repressed, far-right Southern-accented deacon with slicked down hair, somber suit and Nazi-like heel clicks who walks away with an otherwise disappointing evening that is more Marx Brothers than Marxism.