by Joan Kane · September 27, 2013
Indie Artists on New Plays #3: Joan Kane looks at To Fool the Eye at Boomerang Theatre Company To Fool the Eye, an adaptation of Jean Anouilh’s Leocadia by Jeffrey Hatcher is a romantic comedy with musical interludes set in the 1930’s and produced in repertory for the 15th season of the Boomerang Theatre Company.
An eccentric, forgetful Duchess coerces Amanda, a hat maker from Paris, to her chateau to spend the weekend trying to make the Duchess' suicidal nephew forget about the death of his love, the divine opera star Leocadia. Amanda is the Doppelganger of the dead woman and if she can convince Albert that she is Leocadia it might prevent Albert from killing himself.
Overall the piece is a faithful delivery of the motifs that Anouilh presented, including regret for lost love and pursuit of frivolous crushes versus true love. Prince Albert, as created by Vince Gatton, is a spoiled gentleman with an aristocratic pedigree who is not familiar with the word “No.” Gatton plays Albert with an honest venerability. Over the course of the evening we see the unraveling of the prince as he accepts the fact that Leocadia never loved him, as evidenced by her never having said “I love you.” Jennifer Larkin performs a determined, intelligent Amanda who sees beyond the antics of this upper class buffoonery. The Duchess, as played with subtle, eccentric, forgetful battiness by Sidney Fortner, is determined at all costs, to ease the pain of her beloved nephew. Rounding out this group of aristocratic lunatics is Baron Hector played with deadpan humor by Jared Reinmuth.
In her garden the Duchess has recreated the café where Albert and Leocadia fell in love. She enlists the services of every person who came in contact with them during their three day love affair; a taxi driver, an ice-cream vendor, waiters and a band of Gypsy musicians. Instructed to follow a script to enact the last moments of the romantic interlude, Amanda refuses to follow the script and orders a Pernod with water instead of Champagne. What takes place is two hours and fifteen minutes of highly stylized comedy including physical pranks, women playing male roles with over done mustaches, musical interludes and playful, flirty winks at the audience. The musicians double for the servants: Joe Beaudin, David Arthur Bachrach, Steven Cuevas, Sara Thigpen, Timothy Babcock, Anna Nugent, and Mel Nieves give energetic, crafted performances.
Directed by Cailin Heffernan this screwball comedy is an entertaining experience not to be missed. The action takes place on a simple set of chairs and rolling tables designed by Jennifer Stimple Kamel. Cheryl McCarron’s 1930’s period costumes are exquisite. I especially loved the beautifully crafted outfits worn by the Gypsy musicians. I thoroughly enjoyed the scene changes when the ensemble danced, sang and flirted shamelessly with the audience.