On The Razzle at Theatre West Review – The Razzle with a Dazzle of Farce

 

 

Playwright Tom Stoppard has based his comedy, first presented in 1981, on a mid-19th Century play by Johann Nestroy. Nestroy’s play also served as the inspiration for “The Matchmaker” and “Hello, Dolly!” But Stoppard makes this take on the tale uniquely his own: There are no songs, it’s not set in New York, and there’s no Dolly Levi in sight.

Set in Vienna at the turn of the 20th Century, “On The Razzle” follows the hilarious adventures of two naughty, bumpkin grocery assistants, Weinburl (Joey Jennings) and Christopher (Lacy Blake), who shirk duty to experience one joyful day in the big city. Fleeing their country establishment, they go “on the razzle”—that is, they head for the big city (Vienna) in search of adventure and relief from the tedium of their daily routines. They find love, romance and mischievous hijinks.

Zangler (Andrew Walker), their boss, meanwhile, has also headed for Vienna, to a parade, and in pursuit of a romance of his own. The city is apparently in the grips of tartan fever, influencing everything from fashion to food. The puffed up, pompous, bombastic grocery store proprietor is determined to end his niece, Marie’s (Chloe Rosenthal), love affair with Sonders (Frank Gangarossa). He mangles phrases and utters many loud malaprops, such as, “Fetch me a half-witted cab, you hansom fool!” his plans to propose to his fiancee Madame Knorr (Cathy Diane Tomlin) at the Imperial Gardens Cafe are frustrated by his niece Marie’s determination to elope with Sonders. Madame Knorr and her friend Frau Fischer (Maria Kress) are wined and dined by Weinburl and Christopher, who deviously plan to dodge paying the bill. When everyone ends up at the Imperial Gardens, suffice it to say several of the characters are in for some major surprises.

 

 

Coachman (Donald Moore) is a boobs-and-buttocks-obsessed man who unleashes his unrestrained carnality on French maid Lisette (Lindsay Jean Roetzel), who is increasingly unraveled by sexual pleasure. She plays her role to perfection.

 

 

Razzle, though peppered with an unremitting display of verbal gymnastics, puns, and sly sexual innuendos, is mostly slapstick and rather thin on substance, and, because of the relentlessly racy, and at times frenetic, pace, some good opportunities for audience engagement are lost. The enthusiastic cast is to be admired for injecting an enormous amount of physical and verbal energy into a linguistically demanding farce. I’m perplexed and distracted by the seemingly incongruous casting of women in the male roles of Melchoir and Christopher. Superb period costuming by Majorie Van Der Hoff greatly enhances the Viennese-inspired theme.

Revisions in bold and underlined.

WHAT: “On The Razzle.” A comedy.

WHO: Written by Tom Stoppard—of course, among the most popular of living British playwrights (although he was born in Czechoslovakia). His most famous works include “Arcadia,” “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” “The Real Inspector Hound,” “The Real Thing,” “Rough Crossing” and “Travesties.” He is the winner of seven Tony ® Awards.

Adapted from “Einen Jux will er sich machen” by Johann Nestroy.

The Cast of “On The Razzle” includes (in alphabetical order) Jeanine Anderson, Lacy Blake, Frank Gangarossa, Mary Garripoli, Gera Hermann, Joey Jennings, Maria Kress, Ernest McDaniel,  Donald Moore, Lindsey Jean Roetzel, Chloe Rosenthal, Janie Steele, Cathy Diane Tomlin and Andrew Walker.

Directed by Pete Parkin. The recipient of an MFA from Pasadena Playhouse in 1969, he went on to work as a director, playwright, designer, technical director and makeup artist (working with Alfred Hitchcock, Marlon Brando, Telly Savalas, Paul Newman and Julie Andrews, among others).

Produced by Jill Jones. Presented by Theatre West. Produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

Set design: Jeff G. Rack. Sound design: Austin Quan. Lighting design: Yancey Dunham. Costumes: Marjorie Van Der Hoff. Theatre West Executive Director: John Gallogly.

WHERE: Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, in Los Angeles, CA 90068. This is near Universal City, North Hollywood and Studio City. There is free parking in a lot across the street.

WHEN: September 26- November 2, 2014. Fri. & Sat. at 8:00, Sun. at 2:00.

There will be a talk back with the director and cast on Sunday, October 5 after the show.

ADMISSION: $25at the door, $20 online. Seniors $20 at the door, $15 online. Groups of twelve or more, $15 each ticket. Students with I.D. to age 25, $5. Pay What You Can on Friday, October 3.

RESERVATIONS: (323) 851-7977.

ONLINE TICKETING: Theatre West

           

           

           

 

 

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