Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Fickle: A Fancy French Farce
The Olney Theatre Center
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's review of The Select (The Sun Also Rises)


The Cast
Photo by Stan Barouh
The word "fancy" gets used to the point of exhaustion in Fickle: A Fancy French Farce, the comedy by Meg Miroshnik receiving its world premiere at Olney Theatre Center in suburban Maryland, which is fun and entertaining if not especially memorable.

The playwright has reworked—and streamlined, at 90 swift minutes—Pierre de Marivaux's 18th-century play The Double Inconstancy into a mishmash of times and places. While scenic designer Charlie Calvert has created a classical-looking proscenium within the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab, Helen Q. Huang's costumes bring together not just the 18th and 21st centuries, but also elements of the intervening periods, all in wildly clashing prints and colors.

The plot follows Marivaux's original, but Miroshnik sprinkles anachronisms and plain silliness wherever she goes. In this off-center world, a prince (Chris Dinolfo) practices his acting skills, an aspiring lady of fashion (Tonya Beckman) invites the audience to follow her "parlez-vous-tube channel," and a shared love of cheese brings one couple together.

Under the rules of the land where the prince lives (but apparently doesn't have any real power), he must marry one of his subjects. He has fallen in love with Silvia (Kathryn Tkel), but rather than declare himself, he has his soldiers kidnap her and deliver her to his palace. This is understandably unacceptable to Silvia, primarily because she's already engaged to Harlequin (Andy Reinhardt), who pursues her to the palace.

Soon, Harlequin is taken in hand by Flaminia (Alyssa Keenan Wilmoth), assistant to the keeper of the prince's rulebook (Marcus Kyd), and her flighty sister Lisette (Beckman). There's also a doddering lord (Mark Jaster) who keeps wandering in and out of the action, not to mention false identities, goofy sight gags, self-referential asides, and a bit of audience participation. Warning: don't arrive late.

Director Eleanor Holdridge is working with seven talented performers, some of whom have more opportunities to shine than others: Tkel, discovering her hidden imperious nature; sweet Dinolfo, who never thought about how his actions could affect other people; Kyd, who can't imagine a world without rules; and Reinhardt, a gifted physical comic.

What keeps Fickle from becoming more than an amusement is that Miroshnik's writing has a slapdash feel, as if she has tried to cram everything possible into those 90 minutes. In contrast, playwright David Ives has crafted his adaptations of classic comedies (such as The Liar and The Heir Apparent) in rhyming couplets, maintaining the formality of the original period while also sneaking in naughty jokes and painful puns.

Olney Theatre Center
Fickle: A Fancy French Farce
March 1st - March 26th, 2017
By Meg Miroshnik
Based on the play La Double Inconstance (The Double Inconstancy) by Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux
Trivelin: Marcus Kyd
The Lord: Mark Jaster
Silvia: Kathryn Tkel
Flaminia: Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan
The Prince: Christopher Dinolfo
Lisette: Tonya Beckman
Harlequin: Andy Reinhardt
Directed by Eleanor Holdridge
Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab
2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road
Olney, MD
Ticket Information: 301-924-3400 or www.olneytheatre.org


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