The Fantasticks, 7.7.10

Well, with the exception of the weird surrealist post-apocalyptic tacked-on intro, I thoroughly enjoyed this play. The story was cute, the dialogue was witty, and the performers were talented—there’s not much more you could want out of a play. It’s an age-old tale, both literally and literally. I mean that in the sense that the story is a twist on forbidden love, as are many plays; and that the play itself was written many years ago. Bet you thought that was a typo.

Anyway, I was most impressed by the girl who played Luisa—Sepideh Moafi. It’s hard to take your eyes off of her, because she’s talented, beautiful, charismatic, and she’s got a soaring voice that (no offense to this company) doesn’t really belong in a tiny theater. But that’s kind of the thing about the SF Playhouse. It’s dumpy, but inside its walls are some very talented people who can do a lot with a small stage and a single set. I recognized three players, I believe (Norman Munoz, Yusef Lambert, and Louis Parnell) from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, the first play I saw at this venue, so obviously it’s a great experience for the actors, too, otherwise they wouldn’t return. But I’m just saying. Sepideh, you can do better, and you will.

The other standout, as far as I’m concerned, was Ray Reinhardt as Henry, the Shakespeare-spouting old fogey. Hilarious. See him to believe him.

The only thing that was weird, then, was the thing I mentioned before. The interpretive introduction that director Bill English tacked on for some reason that I still can’t figure out. Initially, the idea of a play-within-a-play made sense! Everyone was mute, but given life when they performed this play. But this idea was never resolved at the end. I thought the people in the play would go back to leading their dreary lives, waiting for the next opportunity to perform the happy story to another group of people. From that standpoint, the post-apocalyptic context and setting would have made sense. Instead, it just seemed like a hurried afterthought, and a way to make the costumes fit in. I could have done without it.

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