Who would you choose if you were trying to find a date for Captain Ahab from Moby Dick? Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye? Jane Eyre from, well, duh? That’s the delightfully demented inspiration behind Miss Emma’s Matchmaking Agency for Literary Characters, a charming comedy gracing the Capital Fringe Festival.
Running a dating agency for literary characters is that eternal romantic optimist and meddler Emma (charmingly portrayed by Lilian Oben) from the Jane Austen book. She is aided by a reluctant helper, the masculine Don Juan (Admad Helmy), who is working off court-ordered community service.
The two characters engage in a running debate about the transformative and curative power of love, which is a foundational belief for Emma and a wishfully imagined myth to Don Juan. Comedic misunderstandings arise because Don Juan favors slang and sexy innuendo, which often flies over the head of the more literal Emma (you have to “beat women off?”).
Miss Emma’s Matchmaking Agency for Literary Characters
by Alexandra Petri
at Lang – Atlas Performing Arts Center
1333 H Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
Details and tickets
The premise sounds like it could grow old, but every little detail works in this amusing and well-paced production. Director Joan Cummins helps these characters interact in a variety of amusing ways. The characters’ costumes are also terrific touches (no costumer is credited, otherwise more kudos would be bestowed).
Ultimately, the real star of the show is playwright Alexandra Petri. High school English would have been so much more interesting and entertaining if she had been seated at the next desk! Miss Emma’s Matchmaking Agency for Literary Characters has so many clever lines it is tempting to see it a second time to catch the humor that was drowned out by the loud audience laughter.