Theatrical & politically charged Gurney play invokes cheers...

Review

Theatrical & politically charged Gurney play invokes cheers...

Dec 29 2007
Ron Levitt |

There are those who love the theatre and/or see theatre as very much a reflection of life. There are those who either are political junkies and/or are brave enough to actually criticize our government when it does asinine things. All of the above will find reason to rejoice in seeing The Fourth Wall by the much-honored American playwright A.R. Gurney currently getting a well-deserved reception at Palm Beach Dramaworks - through Feb, 3. Almost anyone who has taken a college drama class will admire Gurney’s title - using the Fourth Wall to mean "the ‘audience," but Gurney takes it to a whole new level - asking the question whether - as a player in this game of life - we are merely bystanders or take a greater role - listening, reacting, and participating,. In the process, the players are using a script which is basically a love affair with the theatre - using exposition, plot, asides and exit lines. At the same time, Gurney cleverly takes a whack at President Bush and the Republican administration, noting that - if we don’t like what they stand for - we ought to do something anout it. This play was originally written in the time of the first President Bush but has been updated to give it a 2000 feel, with anti-Bush sentiment, But, you do not have to be a liberal or progressive to realize that Gurney is lashing out at all politicians who don’t do the good deeds we expect of them - and, as well, takes a swipe a the American theatre as being undistinguished. Peggy ( charmer Patti Gardner) and Roger (Peter Thomasson) are an affluent couple who have just moved into a co-op in which she has put all the furniture on 3 walls, leaving the fourth wall blank. Thus they are living in a stage setting with the blank wall as the unseen audience, a fact which bothers the husband. Along comes Julia ( an effervescent Angie Radosh) - a seductive family friend who can only be described as "contemporary" - and an outlandish professor (Greg Weiner) who believes all the stage is a classroom. These two are trying to find out what this Fourth Wall means Because their lives are so stage-like - aided by the player piano programmed to play Cole Porter songs - all four characters from time to time break into song Gurney is thus showing us how life is so theatrical. It helps if you are a savvy theatre afficianado. Gurney is a name-dropper. He invokes several Greek writers, George Bernard Shaw, Ibsen, Beckett, Neil Simon, and - of course - Blanch duBois and his heroine Saint Joan, as exemplified by the character Peggy who struggles to burst through the Fourth Wall, meet the adoring public, and then attempt to change the world. Gurney - providing an academically funny and at times comic script - gets able direction from J., Barry Lewis, a realistic, livable set by Michael Amico and some luscious women’s attire by costumer Erin Amico. Once again, Palm Beach Dramaworks - founded by William Hayes and Sue Ellen Beryl eight years ago - has brought an outstanding contemporary work to South Florida.