The Shakespeare Theatre has brought back David Ives
to instill some archaic French literature in our lives.
From the adaptor of The Liar and Venus in Furs
comes The Metromaniacs–this one written in verse.
The original book, called La Metromanie,
is Alexis Piron’s tale of mistaken identity.
Francelou’s house guest, a poet by trade, has written a play,
as has the host, and it debuts today.
Also at home are his daughter and servants,
and a poetess, who, for those who’re observant
doesn’t seem to exist, but her words certainly do–
and the house guest Damis is in love with her, too.
Then there’s Lucille, Francelou’s daughter, a flighty young thing
who delights in sheep poems, and he who can bring
her the verse she adores will have her heart taken.
Anthony Roach as Dorante
The problem, of course, is that it is mistaken
which writer can offer such words in her house.
Lucy puckers her lips and unbuttons her blouse
to seduce Damis and inspire his words.
But he’s not the only one who writes about herds.
A poem goes rogue and falls in the wrong hands
and each would-be lover is developing plans
to con their beloved toward the throes of lust
(and so what if their tactics are slightly unjust).
The play-in-the play, meanwhile, is nearing debut
and some last minute casting confuses who is who:
Damis plays Eraste and Dorante plays Damis
while Lisette, dressed as Lucy, is mistaken as she.
Even servant Mondor gets lost in the commotion
and loses his clothes to his lusty devotion
to Lucille–or Lisette? It’s a challenge to know.
Even Francanlou has a side he won’t show
until the end of the play, when every lad and broad
is paired once and for all by the fates or the gods;
then all is made plain in celebration and laughter
avoiding death, loneliness, and catastrophic disaster.
Michael Kahn once again directs a gem of a play
chock full of wit, laughter, and euphemistic wordplay.
There’s a show in the show and a set in the set
and the audience is an audience (which you should all get).
The self-consciousness makes for some interesting turns–
a player says “Slap!” and some other’s cheek burns!
The costumes are stunning, the actors delight
through their physical gags and some humorous fights.
The set is luxurious, its marble walls gleam
(but look out for the rocks, they are not what they seem).
Accolades to Piron, and to Ives and to Kahn,
LeFevre and Pedlow, Roach, Thomas, and Conn,
and to Goldstrom, Kybart, Cackley and to Destiche
whose talent and work on this play have each
made this production a roaring success
(even if two characters wear the same dress).
The true star of the play is , of course, the creator
who brings wit and relevance to it three hundred years later.
To wit, please forgive my meager rhymed verse
get yourself to the theatre, for what could be worse
than missing the premiere of a theatre sensation
right here in DC, before sweeping the nation?
Closes March 22
Shakespeare Theatre Company
450 7th Street NW
1 hour, 45 minutes with 1 intermission
Tickets: $20 – $110
Tuesdays thru Sundays
Tickets or call 202.547.1122
The Metromaniacs by David Ives . Directed by Michael Kahn . Featuring Christian Conn, Anthony Roach, Amelia Pedlow, Dina Thomas, Michael Goldstrom, Adam LeFevre, Peter Kybart, Danny Cackley and Ross Destiche . Scenic Design: James Noone . Costume Design: Murell Horton . Lighting Design: Mark McCullough . Sound Design: Matt Tierney . Composer: Adam Wernick . Period Movement Consultant: Frank Ventura . Literary Manager/Dramaturg: Drew Lichtenberg . Assistant Director: Craig Baldwin . Production Stage Manager: Bret Torbeck assisted by Elizabeth Clewley . Produced by Shakespeare Theatre Company . Reviewed by Jennifer Clements.