nytheatre.com review by Pamela Butler
February 27, 2009
This short and luscious farce is part of Emerging Artists Theatre's spring festival, EATFest 2009. This week will be your last opportunity to see these plays, and there are many reasons not to miss them.
While Series A & B are composed of several short pieces, The Chiselers is a second show on Thursday through Saturday nights at 9:30. For just a little over an hour, the audience delights in the antics of a classic "woe is me" and "whodunit" farce. This clever gathering of puns, quips, repartee, and, oh, murder, is written by long time company member and playwright, Mark Finley, and produced by numerous equally talented people who have given this and other pieces in this festival, very fine production values.
Paul Adams, artistic director of EAT, opens the evening by speaking with genuine enthusiasm about the company, now 16years old and going strong under his guidance. He has every reason. There are abundant riches here.
Karen Stanion as Margo Carstairs, daughter of the cunning and cold-hearted Beverly Carstairs, first presents herself in the most gorgeous sheath and jacket ensemble, which stays on her from curtain to curtain. As a clothes lover, I understand. The costume designer, Meredith Neal, has also done more than justice to the grand dame Beverly Carstairs, regally played by Marie Wallace, by draping her in vibrant reds and blacks. The fabrics are luscious. Everyone else who wears clothes on stage is equally well dressed. Nick Mathews, as Julian Kerr, gigolo tennis instructor, is the only one who spends most of his time in a towel, but he has the body for it.
Margo is Beverly's spoiled, rebellious daughter who whines and daydreams about wanting to turn ice sculpting into modern art. Her little sister Connie, well presented by Andrea Alton, is dumpy and clueless, but ultimately lands on her feet. There is also Chuck, played with chameleon-like changeability by Thomas Poarch, who is sucked in by the two voracious women to partner with one and become husband to the other.
The light plot is a vehicle for the cleverness here and I think it is the precise and rhythmic timing that really lifts the play to its comic pitch. Director and company member Melissa Attebery has orchestrated the piece with all the elements working together to provide a brisk comic action.
Lighting, set, and sound are all polished and effective. The set designer, Tim McMath, shows a thoughtful use of simple elements to create elegant form and function that serves for all the plays in the series.
My only mild complaint is that I felt pulled up short by the ending. The wrapping up of loose ends happens so quickly, I was still hungry for just a little more. It's a good time, fun, silly, and entertaining.