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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey


  Bruce Cromer and Erin Partin/Ph: Gerry Goodstein

A multitude of mirth and mid-summer madness abound at the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey where Moliere's The School for Wives  settles in for a giddy three week run through July 26.

Skillfully staged by Brian B. Crowe, the nearly 400 year old farce still resounds with heated sexual undertones and knockabout humor that taunts and tickles the viewer.

The deft and supple English verse translation, with its deliciously well aimed rhymed couplets by Richard Wilbur is delivered with fanciful flourish by an attractively keen cast of players. Bruce Cromer  is Arnolphe, a blundering nobleman obsessed with the notion that he very well may end up as a cuckold husband. To avoid entrapment he plans the devious seduction of his naive ward with a rulebook for young innocent brides. Cromer creates an amusing fool (originally acted by Moliere himself).  His comic expressions and asides are deliciously droll. It's a physically exhausting turn that finds him bounding about with manic maneuvers.

Erin Partin  is a fetching Agnes, Arnolphe's simple minded ward, raised in seclusion away from the world's corruptive society and groomed to be a doting slave and subsequent wife to her fatuous master. Partin plays the role with wide eyed innocence and a seductively kittenish sexuality. Her squeeky voice adds to her amusing portrait of harbored affection.

There is diverting assist from Greg Jackson  and  Kristie Dale Sanders as Arnolphe's dim witted servants who engage is some physically broad slapstick antics. Jon Barker  plays the dashing young suitor who crushes Arnolphe's wedding plans with an eager thrust and convincing comic expression.

The elegant set as designed by John Hobbie is a pink and pearly seventeenth century courtyard centered by a marble fountain that serves as a playground for some broadly knockabout action. Add sumptuous costumes tailored by Emily Pepper  with ribbons, plumes and parasols that define an era.


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