Comedy plods despite engaging story, props

By Mia Proli Gable

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Axes will fall when friends reenact executions from Elizabethan England and France while struggling against modern society in the Invisible Theater's production of "Lettice and Lovage."

This comedy, set in present-day England, is a very slow starter. The first act concentrates on the rise and fall of Lettice Douffet's (Glenda Young) job as a tour guide of the Fustian House. She loses her job because she stretches the truth to make the tour more exciting and is caught by her employer, Lotte Schoen (Susan Claassen), who subsequently fires her.

Young is convincing as Lettice, an eccentric character whose hobby is studying the food and beverages of the Tudor time. From her mother, who started a female Shakespearian company in France, she has a love of history and language along with a theatrical spirit.

The second act concentrates on the relationship that develops between Lotte and Lettice. The text is funny and quirky, like both characters, but it drags and eventually loses its umph mainly due to Claassen's unconvincing performance as the brittle and bitter Lotte Schoen. Claassen's portrayal is reminiscent of a character Carol Burnett might have played on her TV show and it breathes no life into the character of Lotte Schoen.

For example, when Lotte, captured by Lettice's "spunk," visits her home to tell her about a job opening and to give her a very flattering letter of recommendation, the audience might wonder why she is suddenly so generous. Though she is really not as stuffy as she appears, especially after a few drinks of Lettice's Tudor beverage, the lack of life in Claassen's Lotte makes it hard to swallow her wavering emotions for Lettice. By the end of the play when the women's relationship should be reinforced, it is a wonder the two get along at all.

The scenery is excellent, especially Lettice's apartment. Designed by UA theatre arts senior, Regan Gillespie, the set is adorned with the accoutrements of Elizabethan England including her mother's Shakespearian props.

"Lettice and Lovage" has a very interesting story line, especially in the second act, but it does not seem to move very fast under the direction of Gail Fitzhugh. All in all, the show is long and slow. Meant to, in Lettice's words, "Enlarge, Enlighten and Enliven" the audience on the lives of two aging women with a passion for English history, it fails to do so.

"Lettice and Lovage" will play at The Invisible Theater through Feb. 12. Tickets run $12-$14. For more information call 882-9721.

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