THE RIDICULOUS YOUNG LADIES
nytheatre.com review by Alex Roe
Random Arts’ playful adaptation of
Moliire’s Les Pricieuses Ridicules is a happy translation of this
one-act satire in most every way. The result is an excellent diversion
for a Sunday afternoon to enjoy some wry pokes at social buffoonery,
some engaging comic actors, and the particular pleasure of theatre by
August 15, 2002
This short playlet presents the table-turning vengeance of two young Parisian suitors (Scott Addison Clay and Chris Catalano) on two disdainful and precocious young cousins (Amy Caitlin Carr and Christiaan Koop) who are infatuated with mannered behaviors, rules of courtship, and their misplaced social ambitions.
Slightly emended by the performers, Albert Bermel’s English version of the play is easy and amusing, and it includes some pithy zingers.
Director Nicole Lerario has moved the action from the 17th Century to the 1920s. While the flapper girls and their suitors are more East Egg than Paris, this distinctive era of social opportunism is easily evoked by the costuming and well suited to the contemporary young actors. The French Court and the Jazz Age receive slight illumination, but the characters’ relationships and their affectations are surely struck.
Much credit for this score goes to the cast. Their exaggerated style strikes a good-humored affect that consistently winks at the audience, whether the servants (Ross Beschler and Beth Carusillo) wrestle with a recalcitrant boom box or the Vicomte de Jodelet (Michaelangelo Barasorda) salutes a pair of Old Glory boxers. Mark J. Dempsey truly shines as the sham Marquis de Mascarille; his comic timing and self-satisfaction as a lover of his own arts is the keynote of the production. Only an invitation to the audience to swell the ranks of the small cast for a ball does not quite jibe with the rest.
Presented in the forestage of the renovated East River Amphitheatre, the play is simply staged to play with the environment without being overwhelmed. It neither exceeds its production limits nor undervalues the virtues of its performers. And perhaps what makes this incarnation succeed so well is its plain lack of pretension—a fine comeuppance for the social arrogance the play skewers.