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THEATER REVIEWS: 'LE DINDON' AND 'EXTREMITIES' : Sweet and Bitter Revenge : In 'Le Dindon,' the bedroom farce's period flavor is intact, but the plot's tighter and a few characters have been changed around.

October 08, 1992|TODD EVERETT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

While some local companies see no problem in duplicating the work of others, Gothic Productions' Michael Jordan makes sure that at least some of his programs are unique: He writes them himself.

Strictly speaking, Jordan didn't write "Le Dindon" any more--or any less--than he wrote last year's "The Picture of Dorian Gray" or a longer-ago production of "A Flea in His Ear."

But he did adapt them for the local stage: "Gray," of course, from the Oscar Wilde book, and "Dindon" and "Flea" from turn-of-the-century French playwright Georges Feydeau.

"Le Dindon," a knockabout bedroom farce in the finest tradition, plays weekends through Oct. 25 under Jordan's direction at the Arts Council Center in Thousand Oaks.

The title translates as "The Turkey," here an idiomatic expression translating to something like "The Fool."

"I am very faithful," one of them insists. "One husband, one lover." A Parisian lawyer named Vatelin is happily married to beautiful, spirited Lucienne. Trying to lure her into his own arms, an oily fellow named Pontagnac bets that even the straight-arrow Vatelin has a mistress; Lucienne vows that, if she catches her husband in flagrante delicto, she'll have her revenge in kind.

While keeping the period flavor, Jordan has modernized the play somewhat: tightening up the plot, changing a few characters around, dropping in a contemporary reference or two, and brightening the pace even beyond Feydeau's hectic original.

Jordan has an attractive and capable cast to play the 20 roles, headed by Toni Beery as Lucienne, Jim Diderrich as the hapless Vatelin, and Sergio Bertolli as sleazy Pontagnac. Robert M. Grant portrays another of Lucienne's suitors, and Nels Jorgensen is very funny as a butler.

The second act takes place in a hotel, whose guests include a fiery Spanish couple (Yvonne Golomb and Wayne Tobin), a retired Army major (Richard Salas) with an aversion to the sound of bells, his wife (Rebecca Hanes in one of two roles), and a couple of "courtesans" (Gina Cool and Pamela Canton), plus the hotel manager (Theresa Secor), a perky housekeeper (Jennifer Tobis), an irritated guest (Karl Lentini, who also plays two parts), and some of the worst wigs gathered in one spot since Howard Cosell and Willard Scott had dinner at Carl Reiner's house. There are also a trio of police, played by Brad Weinstein, Ed Greene and Mark Goles.

Amazingly, by the end of Act III, all of this is sorted out, pretty much to the satisfaction of everybody--including, most likely, the audience.

* WHERE AND WHEN

"Le Dindon" continues weekends through Oct. 25 at the Arts Council Center, 482 Greenmeadow Road, in Thousand Oaks. Performances are at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; 7 on Sundays. General admission is $8.00; $7 for students and seniors. For reservations or further information, call 499-4355.

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