Famous playwright Sandor Turai has just overheard his nephew’s fiancée cavorting with another man. So has his nephew. This isn’t good for business, since Turai’s nephew composes the sugar-coated melodies that accompany his words on stage. In other words, the playwright has a vested interest in keeping his composer happy.
So, as any reasonably vain man would do, he concocts a plan to save his nephew’s upcoming nuptials with his playwrightfulness. The task: incorporate the cheating pair’s pillow talk to help float a story that the affair was merely rehearsal for an ancient French play that nobody had heard of that would be performed that very night. And so truth becomes a lie and lies become truth. Still with me?
The Play’s The Thing was written by Ferenc Molnar in the 20s and adapted by P.G. Wodehouse, the comic author that the program gushingly calls “the greatest writer in English of the century.” He’s best known for his hilarious series of novels featuring Jeeves and the good-hearted, weak-willed Wooster. The title was snagged from Hamlet’s famous line “The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”
The show is playing at the Fairview Library Theatre, found in an isolated corner of the Fairview Mall parking lot — but believe me, it’s worth the commute. The theatre, while a fairly big size, feels like it belongs in a highschool (be sure to check out the oldschool geometric design in the lobby).
The first act takes a bit to warm up but Turai’s Clooneyish charm lured me into the story. (He’s played with gusto by Will van der Zyl). The friend I brought liked the butler best — Michael James Burgess’ straight-faced jester had all the best lines. And Tony Rein did a great job of making me detest his character Almady up ‘til the end, only to win me over with his cringe-worthy re-enactment of his most desperate moment.
My favourite bit was the play-within-a-play: theatre folk lampooning and congratulating themselves. But in the style of Inspector Hound, there’s a few winks to let the audience in (as well as Wodehouse’s signature wordplay, satire and physical comedy).
See this play for the banter, the beautifully-crafted insults and an 86-year-old play that can still make a cynical 20-something Torontonian laugh out loud.
- The Play’s the Thing is playing at the Fairview Library Theatre (35 Fairview Mall Drive, Toronto) till January 21, 2012
- Shows run Wednesday-Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday (and Jan 21) at 2pm
- Tickets are $27.50, $22 for students and seniors
- Tickets are available by phone, in person at the box office or visit stagecentreproductions.com