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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
THE CONSTANT COUPLE
at (Pearl Theatre Company) 80 St. Marks Place

TWO-FACED, AT THE LEAST
By Sandy MacDonald

  Dominic Cuskern and Rachel Botchan in The Constant Couple/photo credit: Gregory Costanzo

How is it possible that George Farquhar's delightful 1699 social satire The Constant Couple could have sat it a drawer for so long, as least as far as New York is concerned? Having carried out due diligence, the Pearl - a respected East Village repertory company - feels confident that their production represents the Restoration comedy's New York premiere. It's an honor long overdue, and they render it with frequent strokes of genius.

As the ever-sanguine Sir Harry Wildair, Bradford Cover singlehandedly proves that one performer with irresistible charisma can indeed carry an entire play. The well-named Wildair (whom director Jean Randich first shows swaggering in like a rock star) is but one of five suitors ensnared by one Lady Lurewell (Rachel Botchan, disappointingly mousy in demeanor and temperament). Betrayed a dozen years ago by her first young love at fifteen, the heiress has embarked on a cross-continental campaign to wreak vengeance on all mankind.

The actors playing the other swains are no slouches: David L. Townsend as a young piety-spouting crypto-lech Dominic Cuskern as his alderman uncle, whose lust is matched only by his avarice and John Pasha , who puts his matinee-idol physicality to good use as a hotheaded colonel. Eduardo Placer alone seems a bit out of the loop as Clincher, Sr., a freshly moneyed fop panting to have at society. Placer seems content to ride the coattails of the comic outfit (complete with lavender wig) provided by costumer Liz Covey.

Little anachronisms, like Wildair's shades and the wheelies sported by a messenger (over-rambunctious Orville Mendoza), are cute the first time out but grow tiresome. Another element that really doesn't work is the interpolation of tuneless song segments (no composer is credited, or wishes to take credit, so perhaps they were improvised).

Cavils aside, the 2 and one-half hour play is rich with keen, catty observations that have ample resonance in our own era of two-faced family values.

 


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