Review: Red Bull Theater Brings Its Madcap ‘The Metromaniacs’ to the Duke
By Diana Mott, Contributing Writer, April 23, 2018
David Ive’s The Metromaniacs is a bawdy yet chaste reworking of the 18th century farce La Metroamanie by Alexis Piron about people who are mad about poetry. It is filled with so many mistaken identities it makes one’s head spin and contains not one but two recaps by the actors to keep the audience up to speed. My advice: just relax and enjoy the rhmying couplets and be prepared to laugh a great deal.
The setting is a ballroom filled up to its guady chandeliers with towering painted cardboard trees and fake boulders that are put to comical use during the shenanigans that ensue. The lord of the manor is Francalou (Adam Lefevre) who has written a play and invited a horde of eligible bachelors to a single performance with the aim of finding a suitor for his distracted daughter, Lucille (Amelia Pedlow), a Valley Girl confection in pink whose head is always in a book of poetry. Francalou’s co-conspirator is Lucille’s maid, Lisette (the wonderful Dina Thomas), who is always one step ahead of the men who surround her and the hillarious misunderstandings that take place, mostly at her direction.
Enter Dorante (Noah Averbach-Katz), handsome but not particularly bright or poetically inclined, who immediately falls for Lucille who, in turn, is in love with the poet Damis (Christian Conn), whom she has never met but whose poems she adores. She is completely unaware that the object of her affection is her father’s house guest, visiting under the pseudonym Cosmo de Cosmos. Damis, in turn, loves Meriadec de Peaudoncqville (go ahead-I dare you to say it out loud) the mysterious lady poet and darling of the critics living in Brittany (code for the sticks) who is actually none other than his host, Francalou.
If this all hasn’t completely boggled your mind, enter Mondor (Adam Green), servant of Damis, who has been searching for his master only to discover that Damis is planning to leave his comfortable digs at Francalou’s to search for Mariadec. Mondor convinces his boss that Mariadec is in disguise among the guests at Francalou’s mansion. He knows Damis is broke and doesn’t fancy a wild goose chase in Brittany. Besides, he is besotted with Lisette, that is, until Lucille mistakes him for Damis. The previously aloof Lucille drops her poetry books post haste and drags Mondor behind a tree,making Dorante furious and . . . can you see where all this is going? Don’t count on it. There’s an uncle, a duel, more misunderstandings, and of course, inevitable resolutions.
The entire play is spoken in verse, and did I mention that it rhymes? Early in the play, when Dorante makes inquires about Lucille, he is told “Metromania, that’s her curse.” “She likes the subway?” he asks. “No the verse.”
The entire cast is game. Christian Conn, whose solilloquy near the end of the play dispatches the full gamut of emotions he experiences while waiting for news of how his play is received (written under a pseudonym, of course) gamely captures just the right combination of self awareness and not having a clue. Dina Thomas is the firecracker who keeps things moving along and her Lisette can be counted on to tersely sum things up: “Verse becomes vice, and vice versa.”
The Metromaniacs is ultimately a delightful diversion, a piece of fluff that entertains but doesn’t resonate. Nonetheless, kudos to director Michael Khan who keeps four plates spinning at one time. The highest praise goes to Mr. Ives, who may have had great source material, but his words are what make this funny little play sing.
The Metromaniacs presented by the Red Bull Theater at The Duke Theater, 229 West 42nd Street, througn May 26, 2018. Red Bull Theater: Jesse Berger, Founder and Artistic Director; Jim Bredeson, Managing Director. Written by David Ives; adapted from La Metromanie by Alexis Piron. Directed by Michael Kahn; set design by James Noone; costume design by Murell Horton; lighting design by Betsy Adams; sound desgin by Matt Stine. Cast: Noah Averbach-Katz, Christian Conn, Adam Green, Peter Kybart, Adam Lefevre, Amelia Pedlow, Dina Thomas.
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Cover: Noah Averbach Katz and Amelia Pedlow in ‘The Metromaniacs;’ photo: Carol Rosegg.