Talented cast shines in Cygnet’s ‘Travesties’

Carr (Jordan Miller), Tristan (Brian Mackey) and Joyce (Patrick McBride) squabble in Tom Stoppard’s ‘Travesties.’

If you go
■ What: ‘Travesties’
■ When: In repertory with “The Importance of Being Earnest,” matinees, evenings to Oct 27
■ Where: Cygnet Theatre Company, Old Town Stage, 4040 Twiggs Street, San Diego
■ Tickets: $24-$59
■ Box Office: (619) 337-1525
■ Website: cygnettheatre.com

By Diana Saenger

Tom Stoppard’s “Travesties,” on stage at Cygnet Theatre in Old Town San Diego, is a rarity among works. First produced in 1974, the action takes place in Zürich, Switzerland during World War I. At that time, three notable men lived there — author James Joyce; Dada art movement founder, Tristan Tzara; and communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin.

Also in Zürich is English consular official Henry Carr. Carr, at one time, had a role in Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” produced by Joyce, and over which, Carr and Joyce had many disagreements.

Stoppard imagined how these men would intermingle, intending a play about art, war, revolution and politics, and he actually borrowed some of his “Travesties” characters from “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

Cecily (Rachael VanWormer) and Gwendolen (Jacque Wilke) with the butler (David Cochran Heath), at Cygnet Theatre.

“Travesties” is like a merry-go-round spinning so fast one can’t jump on. There are characters coming and going so quickly that it’s a little tricky to follow the narrow plot in the first act. But two things really stand out — the humor and the incredible dialogue that the actors deliver rapidly.

Carr (Jordan Miller) spouts off about the recollections he has of the three notables. The only problem is most of them are not true and only jumbled memories thrown together.

As Tzara, Brian Mackey is an actor on steroids, providing lots of funny antics and weird physical feats. His ranting about Dada (the prelude to postmodern art) with different characters may leave the intent in question, but certainly provides plenty of entertainment.

Joyce (Patrick McBride) pops in and out of every scene hoping to catch an ear to further his causes, and also explain the lawsuit brought against him by Carr over their theatrical production disputes.

Lenin is a no-nonsense and ridged man played to perfection by Manny Fernandes. He speaks little English, but his Russian is effortlessly translated by his wife, Nadya, (Maggie Carney).

Two other women add spice to the play. Rachael VanWormer is perky and fun as Cecily the librarian, and Carr’s sister Gwendolen (Jacque Wilke), an assistant to Joyce, is amusing in her affection for Tzara. The ladies deliver beautifully sung songs, especially enjoyable in the second act.

Topping off the fun is the butler, who is mostly silent, but whose comical expressions and mannerisms are superbly performed by David Cochran Heath.

The play has a little of everything — music, dance, parodies, Shakespeare and hilarity. Although the first act is somewhat dry, the second is worth waiting for.

One can only imagine the challenge of orchestrating a script of this caliber, but Director Sean Murray has done a seamless job.

Related posts:

  1. A common thread weaves two repertory gems together
  2. Desperation, hope collide in Old Globe’s ‘Rainmaker’ revival
  3. ‘Assassins’ is funny, musically on target, makes you think
  4. Even the fish is funny in ‘Mistakes Were Made’
  5. Anxiety is never funnier than when ‘Mistakes Were Made’

Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=115002

Posted by Pat Sherman on Oct 9, 2013. Filed under A & E, Theater. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

La Jolla Community Calendar

Facebook

Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

RSS North Coastal News

  • Congregation Beth Am Labor Day Picnic September 2, 2014
    Congregation Beth Am held a festive Labor Day Picnic Sept. 1. This year is the 31st anniversary of this synagogue that started in a tire store in Solana Beach. […]
  • Suspects attempt to rob Solana Beach bank ATM September 2, 2014
    An attempt to break into an ATM at a Solana Beach bank branch early Sept. 2 using a cutting torch ended with the cash machine in flames and two suspects fleeing empty-handed. The suspects set off the ATM's alarm during the failed heist shortly after 2:30 a.m. in the 600 block of Lomas Santa Fe Drive near Glencrest Drive, according to sheriff's Lt. […]
  • First phase of Earl Warren Middle School reconstruction begins in Solana Beach September 2, 2014
    As kids kicked back this summer, San Dieguito Union High School District kicked off the first phase of its complete reconstruction of Earl Warren Middle School. The $41 million project is made possible by the passage of Proposition AA. […]