Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

THEATER BEAT

'Fools' Offers Breezy, Innocuous Comedy

May 31, 1996|PHILIP BRANDES

The great thing about being a critic, wrote Moliere in "La Cage Aux Facheux," newly adapted as "The Fools" at Santa Monica Playhouse, is that "you don't have to stay till the end of the play. Besides," the playwright continued in signature self-mockery, "if you've seen one Moliere play, you've seen them all."

Those must have been glorious times for critics--nowadays, we have to pay attention all the way through. And it would be hard to imagine two more different Moliere revivals than this breezy, innocuous musical comedy and the biting social satire in the Actors' Gang's "The Imaginary Invalid."

If the latter comes across like existential carnival--Beckett by way of Cirque du Soleil--"The Fools" is more Barnum & Bailey spiced with Monty Python. Hokum about lovers (Chris DeCarlo and Evelyn Rudie) plotting to wed despite the objections of the girl's pompous guardian uncle (Martin Barron) provides the slim pretext for adapter Rudie's flights of verbal artistry--her loopy wordplay, especially in the original songs, is the main attraction.

DeCarlo's antic staging sports a sizable cast (distinguished by John Waroff's incompetent valet) as a succession of fools from various walks of life impede the lovers' plans. Making no attempt to contemporize the highly specific targets of Moliere's original satire, the production opts for a generic slapstick approach--agreeable enough, but it under-serves Moliere, who did more for the French comic tradition than pave the way for a Jerry Lewis fetish.

Food for thought may be a scarce commodity here, but at least an intermission buffet is served and belly laughs are plentiful.

* "The Fools," Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th St., Santa Monica. Fridays, 7:30 p.m., Saturdays, 6:30 p.m., Sundays, 5:30 p.m. Ends June 30. $21.50. (310) 394-9779. Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|