April 17, 2012




 Delia MacDougall breaks up with Anatol (Mike Ryan) as Tim Kniffin Looks on. Photo by David Allen 
Delia MacDougal breaks up with Anatol (Mike Ryan). Tim Giffin Looks on
photo: David Allen 

Of course it was a time when Gentlemen bowed and scraped to put a hit on a woman. Any woman will do – just so they’re breathing.

The direction by Barbara Oliver needs to speed things up. No, we don’t need a high-speed train to come through the stage, only some energy in the ponderous play. Occasionally there is some buffoonery and snide remarks that are quite amusing by Tim Kniffen, as Max. He is probably the most amusing, but his projection would not hit the ball out of the park. Hard to hear some of it – clever as he is.

Schnitzler’s qualifications as a playwright were not universally praised. Some thought he was brilliant, and others thought his stuff should be burned. I think I’d go along with “Burn, baby Burn!”

 Originally Schnitzler wrote nine little play-lets. Thank God, the Aurora decided to use only six of them. And thank God again, for having an intermission. Where else could you glean comments like this in the Gents Rest Room? Overheard:  “I saw a third of the audience asleep. But I didn’t want to say anything!” – said an Elder gent. 

Schnitzler’s “La Ronde” was a pretty big hit –and probably his only hit. In this play we get some relief during the second act. It rolled along a little faster and the barbs were much more bitchy. And bitchy in this kind of play is what I like. The only thing that Schnitzler and I have in common is that we were both born on May 15th. Of Course, I came around a little later…much later! Well maybe, not that much later.

To get to the point, I truly believe that this group of play-lets could work, if someone (like a Director maybe) would guide the actors on the art of moving around. Stuffy is one thing, but to be that stuffy on the stage makes them look like they have just been to the Taxidermist. I know -- that’s the way they dressed at that time. But, really – you must admit that they did take some clothing off, once in a while.

 The lovely set design worked perfectly. A little drawing room music might help revive the show – talk, talk; talk with no diversion does not help. But hooray – finally near the end, we did get a little music – but none in the Restaurant. Why does that matter? Well – it would drown out the eating sounds for one thing.

The Actors are Superb: The plot is too lazy. As Anatol, Mike Ryan does some damn good acting. Tim Kniffin (Anatol’s pal) has the taut upper lip Gent look – but he could project a little more. Delia MacDougall (as eight different woman) came through all this still breathing. How did she do it? I don't know - it was a miracle. Wiley Naman Strasser (Franz/ensemble) was the most entertaining while he waited on the snot nosed rich people.

Great Set Design is by Jon Lacovelli. Krista Smith’s lighting is Divine. The play, is directed by Barbara Oliver, and Translated by Margret Schaefer. Question: Is it to late to transfer it back?

Now Playing at the Aurora Theatre


(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Sunday Datebook and he produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))  


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