THEATER REVIEW: ‘Divorce’ is a summer treat

My Brilliant Divorce/ Taconic Stage Company, Copake Falls

IF SITTING THROUGH A EUGENE O’NEILL play makes your fanny numb, and if you enjoy watching a pretty woman tell a familiar divorce story in funny, often fresh language, “My Brilliant Divorce” may be your perfect summer’s hour in the theater.

Yes it’s short. Under one hour, actually. Probably too short.

Copake’s writer/director Carl Ritchie has imported Canadian actress Susan Fullerton in a monologue that has been performed by many a famous actress, including Dawn French (“The Vicar of Dibley”) and Mary Testa (“Xanadu”, “On the Town”) and produced in likely and unlikely places, including Nairobi, London, Prague, Galway and Athens.

Somewhere in her forties (and forever lying about exactly where), Angela has been unceremoniously dumped by her philandering husband, Max. She turns to her unsympathetic mother and a yucky, woman-stomping lawyer for advice, dabbles in sex toys and bar forays, and suffers all the loneliness and humiliations of the middle-aged single woman.

Oh, you recognize this plot? The basics are banal; the entertainment value of “My Brilliant Divorce” is dependent on the actress. Fullerton plays Angela as a prim, British, middle-aged ingénue, teetering on the edge of “cutesy.” If she were to tip over that edge, one could summon some sympathy for her sex-pig husband. But she doesn’t quite. She gets us by delivering the author’s wit with clarity and lots of emotional variety, including a touch of pathos.

Ritchie’s staging (she stops speaking; walks in nun-perfect style to the stage left rail; sits on the rail; speaks; stops speaking; walks primly to the upstage center chair; turns carefully; sits in the prescribed lady-like manner; speaks; etc., etc., etc.) underlines Fullerton’s little-Catholic-ingénue choices for Angela. The approach may be at the other end of the spectrum from Dawn French, but it is a valid approach. It does not keep Angela from rage and zippy darts to her hubby’s lecherous heart.

“My Brilliant Divorce” plays again August 23, 24 and 25 at St. John in the Wilderness church in Copake Falls. Tickets are available at www.taconicstage.com or at 518 325-1234.

 

 

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