Sunday, June 4, 2017

CT Theater Review: Lettice and Lovage -- Westport

Paxton Whitehead, Mia Dillon, and Kandis Chappell. Photo: Carol Rosegg

Lettice and Lovage
By Peter Shaffer
Directed by Mark Lamos
Westport Country Playhouse
Through June 17

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
A fun comedy written by Peter Shaffer, who gave us the must more serious Amadeus. Kandis Chappell stepped in as a late replacement in the role of Miss Lettice Douffet, a tour guide at of one of England’s historic homes. The rather humdrum stories she tells bore the tourists, so she decides to augment them. Parts of history blend with fantasy and soon Lettice is one of the most popular tour guides in England. This doesn't sit well with Lotte Schoen (Mia Dillon), head of personnel for the National Trust, who comes to see for herself the fiction being performed as truth. She ends up firing Lettice,  but intrigued by her unique personality, she reaches out to the woman and recommends her for another tour guide position. The two become unlikely friends who enjoy dramatically re-enacting historical moments -- until some play with an executioner's ax leads to some trouble. Enter attorney Bardolph (Paxton Whitehead, reprising his role from the original Broadway production)

What Are the Highlights?
Solid performances from the performers (Sarah Manton rounds out the cast as Lotte's shy assistant, Ms. Framer) and direction from Mark Lamos. Particularly nicely done is a quick change of costumes to create a fresh group of tourists for Lettice's tours (played by an assembly of local actors).

Set Designer John Arnone cleverly creates the ancestral Fustian House where Lettice enhances history as well as her comfortable basement apartment and Lotte's office at the Trust.

What Are the Lowlights?
It's a cut idea that drags on a bit too long. The run time is about two hours and 20 minutes with an intermission. This is one of those plays which would benefit from a trim and a 90-minute, no intermission run.

More Information:
Lettice and Lovage plays at Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport, through June 17, Performances are Tuesday at 7 pm, Wednesday at 2 and 8 pm, Thursday and Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 3 and 8 pm. and Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets: www.westportplayhouse.org; 203-227-4177.


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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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