Director Michael Kahn certainly knew what he was doing when he commissioned playwright David Ives to adapt Alexis Piron’s 17th century farce “La Métromanie” for a modern audience. The result is a laugh a minute.
The very oh-so-French fun takes place in 18th-century Paris where poets are celebrated and renowned. Francalou (Adam LeFevre) is a wealthy gentleman who thrives on writing his own plays, and plans to stage one in his Parisian home to draw out his poetry-mad daughter Lucille (Amelia Pedlow), and perhaps find her a mate. But this ditsy dish becomes interested in Dorante (Cary Donaldson) who falls for her head over heels. The only problem is, Dorante’s the son of her father’s sworn enemy.
Luckily, the poised-for-prominence poet Damis (Christian Conn) appears on scene, and though he’s looking for someone else (the mysterious poetess Meriadec de Peauduncqville), Francalou advises him that Lucille is the treasure he seeks. Damis’ valet, Mondor (Michael Goldstrom), has a great time getting his fingers into this brewing situation. Now it’s time for Lucille’s maid, Lisette (Dina Thomas), to step in and further the confusion.
Ives has written what could be a three-ring circus under any tent. The stage’s beautiful scenic design by James Noone makes the characters’ mix-ups even more compelling as they duck in and out of trees and garden scenery, using clever and comical rhyming dialogue to explain everything that is happening. And things are happening in lightning speed (a big accomplishment of the cast and director).
The cast is superb. Conn is the energizer bunny, writing his poetry and hopping all around the stage, totally into his character. As Dorante, his rival, who couldn’t write a poem to save his life or win the lovely Lucille, Donaldson excels in portraying a man frozen by feelings of love. Still, that doesn’t keep him from entering the whirlwind mix-ups.
Thomas, as Lisette, delightfully portrays the one who has her eye on the prize. When playing two different characters at a time, she’s extremely amusing. Damis’ Uncle Baliveau (Peter Kybart) is a staunch addition to the stock of characters and Damis’ valet, Mondor, keeps the comedy roulette spinning. But it’s Pedlow as Lucille who steals the show. When she’s taught by Lisette some feminine wiles to win and woo, she captivates every scene.
For those who think poetry is not their thing, prepare to be tickled with a feather. In this great farce, the vice of verse and the hysterics on stage bemuse and captivate; certainly an accomplishment for Ives, Kahn and the Globe’s production team.
IF YOU GO: ‘“The Metromaniacs,” runs through March 6 on the Shiley Stage at 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park. Tickets from $29. (619) 234-5623. theoldglobe.org