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The Bald Soprano
So it is with Ionesco’s classic, The Bald Soprano, now playing at The Pearl Theatre Company in a delightful version directed by Hal Brooks. As Mr. Brooks notes in the program, Ionesco wrote the play in French while he was trying to learn English.
People have been wondering for years what it “means.” Indeed, it might mean anything or nothing. It likely will have a different meaning to your theater companion than it will to you. Certainly, it’s meant to make us question some of our most basic facts about our lives, our senses of logic, and the world in which we live. Yet perhaps it’s best to leave questions of its meaning aside and just have fun with it. Despite its silliness, one still intuits that it is a work of some importance.
In The Bald Soprano reality unravels on “an English evening” in “an English interior.” A couple named the Smiths awaits the arrival of the Martins for a proper English evening at home. Bradford Cover as the tongue-clicking Mr. Smith reminded me of Roger Clarvin, Will Ferrell’s character in the famous Saturday Night Live “Lovers” sketches. Rachel Botchan is an impeccable and uptight Mrs. Smith. And Brad Heberlee and Jolly Abraham, as the Smiths’ house guests, Mr. and Mrs. Martin, cleverly employ ample amounts of body language to spice up an exchange between them with which Ionesco takes a little too long. Dan Daily looks and acts just like the Fire Chief you might conjure up in your head simply by reading the text.
With a homey set by Harry Feiner and at slightly more than one hour in length, The Bald Soprano is a short and sweet work – brilliant in places, corny in others, confounding in still others. Mr. Brooks, Dramaturg Kate Farrington, and The Pearl Theatre’s cast are professional and efficient, mastering Ionesco’s mad comedy and sense of fun, while resisting the urge to interpret it or posit its potential meanings.
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