ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp Berkshire ReviewReview
By Elyse Sommer
Michael Frayn's Alphabetical Order should be funny from A through Z! The setup is a natural for master farceur Frayn to make comedy out of chaos. A library office of a provincial newspaper is organized by principles of filing that would make Dewey tremble in his grave. Articles are filed according to the improvisational whim of Lucy, the library manager. Clothing and other objects are tossed hither and yon, as casually as the information is stashed away in a veritable skyscraper city of metal file cabinets. What's more the lives of Lucy and the paper's employees who frequent the library are as messy as everything else.
Everybody seems content to wallow in this dismal sea of confusion. Until a new young assistant named Leslie comes tripping in on shiny red shoes, like Dorothy down the yellow brick road. Not surprisingly, Leslie is as neat as Lucy and her associates are not. Leslie is, of course, a neat freak, and she soon puts the library and the lives of those who frequent it in order.
The Old Castle Theatre Company can't be faulted for their production of Frayn's comedy. The stage is a model of all around confusion in the first act. It metamorphoses perfectly into apple pie neatness during the intermission, and moves smoothly towards its inevitable end-turned-into-beginning. Each of the seven cast membesr is excellent.
Valerie Clayman changes appropriately from prim and polite to cooly controlling. Deidre Madigan couldn't be better as Lucy, her ditzy opposite. Dan Lundy is properly rumpled as John the eligible bachelor newspaperman who in his first request from the newly arrived Leslie tells her "I just want to know who said it. Also, when he said it, where he said it, what it was he said, and whether he said it all or whether I've merely imagined it. I'm writing a leader on, obviously enough, education, if it helps to know that, which I should think it almost certainly doesn't."
Unfortunately, these humorous bits of dialogue come in too occasional spurts. Despite the cast's valiant efforts, Alphabetical Order simply doesn't deliver the anticipated A to Z laughs. This is either a case of this being one of Mr. Frayn's minor efforts or a matter of humor that simply doesn't resonate away from home -- more than likely a combination of both.
Too bad, for a visit to Old Castle makes for a wonderful theatrical outings, well worth the trip even if you come from the Southern part of the Berkshires as I do. The theater is housed in a handsome art center with many exhibits of outstanding quality. They also have one of the longest seasons of any theater in the area. Here are some of the intriguing offerings they've got lined up:
July 14-30: Stephen Sondheim's award winning Company (a completely different production from the Barrington Stage revival we just reviewed).
August 11-Sept. 3- The Blue Room -- the David Hare version of Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde
Sept 29-Oct 15- The Magnificent Ambersons -- a new play based on Booth Tarkington's novel
Nov 24-Dec 10 - The Man Who Came to Dinner by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman
Links to Michael Frayn at CurtainUp
We've reviewed Frayn's provocative, award winning Copenhagen both in London and New York
We reviewed a recent revival of his most famous farce, Noises Off