The Metromaniacs: A Review
Words. Words. Words. Beautiful luscious words. Set in rhymes. Framed in metaphors. Hung in allegories. Displayed with glorious grace, slick style, and unending rapturous wit. The rhyme rules here and while some are more forced than others they all manage to fall lovingly on the ear. The plot of Red Bull Theater’s production of The Metromaniacs is madness triumphant. It’s the wackadoodle stuff of classical French farce set to a modern world extreme. Presented as a translaptation, a combination of translation and adaptation, written by the gifted and proven playwright David Ives, the text is from the original obscure 1738 play La Metromanie by Alexis Piron. The script itself is most definitely the central driving force and provides the necessary gunpowder for the fireworks to follow.
On stage at The Duke on 42nd Street theater a decadent spring has sprung in the year 1738 and in the ballroom setting of a grand house in Paris, a play is in the making and madness is about to ensue. Metromania, a mania for poetry, is the driving obsession of the period. Love is in the air, so is artistic creation, familial foibles, and all the players involved are incognito to some degree or another. The exact story is a furiously fast paced layered delight that is yours to discover and savor. The sometimes pleasantly dizzying series of events rests on the shoulders of an extremely capable and stellar assortment of actors and their characters.
Christian Conn is a comedic cyclone as Damis, a young poet that has fallen in love with a mysterious female poet that he only knows in print and is later revealed, unknown to him, to be a man. Mondor, Damis’s valet, as presented by Adam Green is a hilarious foil that tries to bring things back down to earth again and again but just manages to get himself further entrenched in it all. Lucille, a young woman in love with poetry, played with broad Mean Girls sass and vacancy by Amelia Pedlow finds herself looking for love even though it never occurred to her to search for it before this day. Noah Averbach-Katz plays Dorante, the young man in love with Lucille, with zany delight as he attempts to court her as someone very much other than himself.
Lisette, Lucille’s maid, in the hands of Dina Thomas, at times coming dangerously close to stealing the show, is the clever sneaky center of this madcap maze. Francalou, Lucille’s father, who wrote the evening’s entertainment, desperately wants to marry off his daughter and also ends up being Damis’s gender fluid poet, is wonderfully funny and charming as portrayed by theater veteran Adam LeFevre. And Peter Kybart is a literal blast as Baliveau, Damis’s closeminded, rich, grumpy, thespian to be, uncle. The entire ensemble is spectacular and they’re having as much of a good time with this elegant screwball comedy as the audience is and that plusses the fun.
This is a hold on to your hats boys and girls production and under the direction of Michael Kahn it’s a roller coaster ride that leaves you breathless with joy. The singular set by James Noone is gorgeous as are the costumes designed by Murell Horton and the wigs created by Dori Beau Seigneur. The Metromaniacs is a must see show for those that love words, wordplay, farce, fantasy, intelligent and broad slapstick comedy, and lush deliciously presented theatricality. The Metromaniacs is a rare and sumptuous treat you must enjoy while you can.
The Duke on 42nd St 229 W 42nd St New York NY 10036 $75-$95