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A CurtainUp Review
By Amanda Cooper
Not surprisingly, the structure of a talent contest evening is the vehicle English playwright and former talent contestant Victoria Wood uses to expose and explore both women's weaknesses. As in most dual female opposites-attract relationships, these women use each other to make up for their own soft spots.
The dialogue is fun, and often universally funny, even if some of the UK culture references are tough to catch (Baby Cham? Perhaps mini champagne?). The acting is without fault, with notable nods going to Laura Knight (Julie) and Aedin Moloney (Maureen).
Alfred Hyslop and John Leighton play an aged, talentless magician and his stand-in assistant, unfortunately slowing down the show's pacing with their eager presence (though a show highlight was watching Leighton as assistant Arthur attempt a shoddy card trick). Tim Smallwood plays both younger male roles – portraying Julie's first love who is the coincidental piano player for the club, and the talent contest sleazy stage manager of sorts –- the latter with more strength.
Overall, there's a lack of spark to the show. This may be due to the absence of designer credits, with costumes, sets, lights and sound all in the hands of the director and performers. The handful of ditties, assumedly written by Wood herself, are okay and inoffensive but never memorable.
In a satisfying turn of events, both Julie and Maureen are able to pleasantly surprise with their final choices. Unfortunately this semi-optimistic finale rushed by too quickly to give Knight or Moloney a chance to nibble on any scenery on their way out, but in many ways making it clear just how easily they could have decided on the other path.
This is the inaugural production of Fallen Angel Company which is committed to presenting the most outstanding and daring new plays written by female British and Irish playwrights to New York audiences. The company was founded in 2003, just before female Brit Byrony Lavery's Frozen hit the off-and-on Broadway scene, or 59 E 59 Street Theater's Brits Off Broadway festival, which included a few female authors. With Britain's best known female playwright being the experimental Caryl Churchill,and Lavery once again in the lineup of New York plays, Artistic Director Aedin Moloney has given herself quite the challenge.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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Mendes at the Donmar
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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