By Lynn Geyer
“Ring around the moon, storm coming soon”. An old proverb – and just the way it will be for his twin brother Frederic, if Hugo has his way!
“Ring Round the Moon” is the highly amusing play penned by Jean Anouilh and adapted by Christopher Fry on stage at The Lakewood Playhouse.
The play is a comedy reminiscent of Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors,” in as much as there are twins involved. Frederic is the gentlest gentleman while Hugo is the most demonic devil alive!
Hugo has no heart and tries to break the hearts of those who do. It is Hugo’s maniacal idea of humor to entrap his brother, who is engaged to Diana (who loves Hugo) in a relationship with a phony aristocrat for the sake of seeing Frederic cast into the depths when he discovers his error.
Director David Domkoski says that what excites him about staging “Moon” is “…Christopher Fry’s extraordinary language….” And there’s plenty of it. As with many plays of the 1950’s – before television – it is very wordy. This can prove to be tedious to modern audiences. However, Domkoski has wisely sprinkled his production with enough clever movement to wash away any unrest which might strike during this very long play – with two 15-minute intermissions.
The simple garden set by James Venturini works well with its two upstage glass doors leading to each wing of the house. We know this is a garden, as much of the center of the stage-in-the-round is resplendent with a giant red rose.
Diane Runkel has again proved herself a wonderful costumer with the excellent choices for this 1912 almost romantic comedy. Alexander Smith does the realistic lighting design.
The cast Domkoski selected is one of the strongest, tightest seen at Lakewood Playhouse in some time. Each member of this very large ensemble is perfectly suited for the corresponding role.
Nicole Lockett haughtily plays Diana Messerschmann; she is engaged to Frederic though secretly in love with his twin brother Hugo. Her millionaire father is richly played by August Kelley. His youthful mistress (who is also secretly in love with Hugo) is charmingly played by Kat Christensen. Brandon Brown is quite funny as Messerschmann’s secretive secretary, Patrice Bombelles.
The butler, Joshua, is played perfectly by Andrew Fry. Jill Goodman plays Capulet, the companion to the twins’ aunt; she is quietly droll as befitting her station.
Matthew Vail is superb as Hugo, the evil brother, while Frederic, his gentile twin brother, is excellently played by – well – Matthew Vail!
Jamie Pederson is flamboyantly over the top as Romaineville, a patron of the arts; he swoops on the stage waving non-existent wings.
Alison Wiles is amazing as Isabelle, the quiet, demure middle-class girl hired by Hugo to tempt his brother. Wiles turns the tables bringing out the dancer’s true colors with gusto.
Syra Beth Puett turns in yet another superlative performance as the not so doddering old grand dame, Madame Desmortes, the twins’ aunt who is set on undermining Hugo’s plan.
Kathi Aleman comes close to walking away with the show as Isabelle’s would-be social ladder-climbing mother. Her line delivery is as perfect as is her body language.
This is a highly amusing play with such an excellent cast you won’t want to miss it.
“Ring Round the Moon” continues at the Lakewood Playhouse in the northeast section of the Lakewood Towne Center, next to the Pierce Transit Depot, through February 6 at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays with 2 p.m. matinees Sundays. There is a Pay-What-You-Can performance Thursday January 20 at 8 p.m. and an actor’s benefit matinee Saturday, February 5, at 2 p.m.
For more information or to make reservations call the theatre at (253) 588-0042 or go online to www.lakewoodplayhouse.org.
Make your reservations and put a ring around the date on your calendar so you won’t miss this fine production of “Ring Round the Moon.”