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A CurtainUp Connecticut Review
Mistakes Were Made
| I hate this idea, but like gravy on cake, it's possible.
An attempt to suddenly infuse a silly plot with deep meaning is the biggest mistake made by playwright Craig Wright, whose otherwise entertaining play, Mistakes Were Made, gets its East Coast premiere at Hartford Stage. For theater industry insiders, there are a lot of funny situations and lines to appreciate in the tale which follows the mostly zany monologue conversations of a theater producer with his secretary, his pet fish and on the phone with his clients.
(Photo: T. Charles Erickson)
Felix Artifex (Will LeRow, in a memorization tour de force) has a history of producing some theater productions with pairings you just wouldn't expect: Suzanne Somers as Medea, Bea Arthur and Dom DeLuise as Antony and Cleopatra, Dennis Franz in Torch Song Trilogy or Tony Danza as the master builder, for example (posters of these shows line the walls of the office set designed by Walt Spangler).
Hartford Stage's Associate Artistic Director Jeremy B. Cohen ably directs Felix's efforts
to close a deal putting a movie star into a play about the French Revolution titled Mistakes Were Made that he says will take Broadway, like the Bastille, by storm. The playwright isn't excited about rewrites demanded by the star and his agent, however. He juggles multiple calls from these people and others while trying to reach his ex-wife as well as navigate interruptions from his timid secretary, Esther (Susan Greenhill), who is heard on the intercom or seen lurking at the doorway through most of the play. When he's not on the phone spinning the deal and lying to all concerned, Felix takes a break to chat with and over feed his rather large pet fish, Denise (puppet created and maneuvered by Stefano Brancato), who swims around a tank downstage.
If you've ever been a theatrical producer or worked with one, you'll enjoy Felix in action. He's not mentally ill, he assures one of his callers, but rather is imaginative, creative and driven. You can't help but laugh.
Those hoping for some plot action or that Denise will jump out of her tank, talk, dance or do something interesting (this might have been a more satisfying twist), will be disappointed. A few last-minute attempts to throw some heavy meaning into the plot —adding a horrific attack on a production crew in the Middle East and revealing the hidden meaning behind the Denise's name and her fate— come too late. We feel an attempt to fix play structure mistakes that were made rather than a real emotional response to the character.
Mistakes Were Made
By Craig Wright
Directed by Jeremy B. Cohen
Cast: Will LeBow (Felix Artifex), Susan Greenhill (Esther), Stefano Brancato (Denise)
Scenic Design: Walt Spangler
Assistant Scenic Designer: Jisun Kim
Lighting Design: Marcus Doshi
Assistant Lighting Designer: Adam H. Greene
Sound Design: Obadiah Eaves
Costume Design: Alejo Vietti
Puppet Design: Stefano Brancato
Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission
Hartford Stage, 50 Church St., Hartford
Evening performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 pm and Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Matinee performances are Sundays and selected Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 pm..
Tickets are $23 to $66 with a limited number of $10 "Ten Spot" tickets available for all performances and can be purchased by calling 860-527-5151 or by visiting www.hartfordstage.org.
Oct. 29-Nov. 22, 2009
Review by Lauren Yarger based on performance of Nov. 5, 2009
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