“There are blind sorts of goodness and enlightened sorts of goodness. Women like us have been the blind sorts of goodness,” bored but brave housewife Lottie (played by Cindy Bell with part pragmatic good humor and part slightly off-kilter seer) tells bored but pious and timid housewife Rose (a so very sad Stacy Kernweis whose true beauty is only revealed when the cloud lifts). It’s a first step toward shaking them both out of the mid-winter London drear that has held up a mirror to their very souls.
In Elizabeth von Armin’s 1922 novel-turned-play “Enchanted April”, a 2003 Tony-nominated Broadway production, the time is post-World War I; war widows are common, grievously wounded soldiers shaking tin cups for tuppence in the streets even more so. So what right do Lottie and Rose, ladies kept and cared for by intact husbands, have to yearn for a month of Italian Riviera sunshine, sans spouses?
And so it goes as the ladies, step by step, check off their boxes as they work toward making an experience happen that Lottie — with the gift of prescience she insists on sharing with all the characters whether they want it or not — knows will be transformational. In fact, as is ultimately acknowledged by husbands originally dead set against the whole idea, the sunshine and Italian castle rental turned out to be absolute needs, not luxuries.
What theater-goers need as we slog through our own winter is a few laughs, and this vibrant production now running at The Center for Arts in Natick (TCAN) delivers just that with flawless comedic timing and a dash of British farce thrown in.
The all-amateur cast of Wellesley residents Olivia Rizzo, Cathy Merlo, and Director Kevin Groppe, along with Cindy Bell, Steve Burgess, Stacy Kernweis, Julien Lafleur, Bill Novakowski, and Marianne Phinney put together a thoroughly enjoyable performance that keeps the laughs going, mostly intentionally but sometimes not, as when the vase of flowers got knocked over for the third time (ah, Opening Night mishaps). I admit it, I was praying for the flowers to go down a fourth time, just to keep the fun of the found gag running.
No time for such nonsense, though. There’s so much that Lottie and Rose have to do before they can make it to Italy. The budget needs winnowing, and so the ladies place an ad for two more ladies to join them and thus reduce expenses. Their newspaper query promising Italy and sunshine and a castle and wisteria has a sort of 1970s personal ad tone to it (“If you like pina coladas…”), and it works, as such [Read more…]