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Restoration Comedy

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Ed Sylvanus Iskandar’s outlandishly overstuffed production of Amy Freed’s Restoration Comedy seems in many ways more like a costume party than a play. But what costumes! The comely and frisky members of the Flea’s acting troupe, the Bats, inhabit a staggering 183 outfits (designed by Loren Shaw), from velvety period finery to gold lamé hot pants and leather; at regular intervals, they parade them in crowded burlesque dance numbers set to cuts by the Scissor Sisters. Before and after the show—and during a lengthy intermission, at which tasty nibbles and cocktails are served—the rosy actors mingle and flirt with the audience, intent “to service you in any way possible.”

Freed’s play cleverly combines and adapts two ribald hits from 1696: Colley Cibber’s Love’s Last Shift, in which a rake named Loveless (James Fouhey) is tricked into falling for his own wife, Amanda (the delicate but sure Allison Buck); and its more celebrated sequel, John Vanbrugh’s The Relapse, in which the sybarite reverts to lewd form and Amanda is courted by his friend Worthy (Seth Moore). Stephen Stout prances and preens hilariously as the empty Lord Foppington, squeezing extra syllables from words until they squeal with self-delight, and Bonnie Milligan brings verve and gale-force voice to her late-blooming role as a hefty nympho bumpkin. It must be said that Freed’s witty script is sometimes overwhelmed by the staging or underserved by the eager but fledgling young cast of 32. But the overall effect is messily winsome, especially in the second half, when the actors loosen up and Freed’s rom-com twists kick in. After more than three hours of puppyish pansexual romping, the play pulls off a satisfying climax.—Adam Feldman


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