By Stefanie Boyd
Arizona Daily Wildcat
A Little Hotel on the Side is a zippy, entertaining French comedy which successfully exploits all the age-old tangles and narrow escapes of adulterous affairs.
The Pinglets and the Paillardins are two neighboring families of the French elite around the turn of the century. The audience soon learns of a recent arguement between Henri Paillardin (Robert M. James) and his wife Marcelle (Stacey Bean). Marcelle feels ignored. Henri acknowledges his neglect but insists that he is a model husband if for no other reason than that he doesn't have a mistress. Unable to resolve their misunderstanding, Marcelle threatens that her husband's reluctance to change may force her to find a lover.
The Pinglets have marital imperfections of their own. Disenchanted with his "hornet" of a wife, Benoit Pinglet (Ronald Vigil) endeavors to woo Marcelle. After some persuasion, he convinces her to rendezvous with him at the Free Trade Hotel, an establishment which caters to "married couples, with or without each other."
The beginning of Act II finds Marcelle and Benoit in the Free Trade Hotel. For reasons inconsequential, everybody else in France also seems to be staying at the seedy inn.
The entire act is a fun, well-staged parade of narrow escapes. Doors close at just the right time, someone stoops to retrieve a dropped hat and avoids being recognized by his/her unknowing spouse. The whole scene is very tense and polished, culminating in a hysterical shambles as the Department of Morality launches a surprise raid and chases people into chimneys and around beds to issue citations.
Act III attempts to resolve the chaos the following morning. It brings the whole exhausting night to a comical, relieving close.
A Little Hotel on the Side is a technical splendor. The mechanics are so smooth and polished that not for a moment was the fluidity disturbed or the atmosphere anything less than impeccably professional.
Likewise, A Little Hotel on the Side's acting is flawless. Every actor is acutely aware of his character and plays the part to its fullest. Stacey Bean and Ronald Vigil are by far the most impressive. The two exhibit a dynamic chemistry on stage which would be a delight to see more of.
A Little Hotel on the Side is a success in every aspect and a wonderful way for the UA department of theatre arts to end its season.
A Little Hotel on the Side is playing at the Marroney Theatre until May 1. For nformation call 621-1162 Read Next Article