Three and a half stars

Butler University Theatre;

directed By Elaina Artemiev

Ivan wants to be thought of as a man ready to marry, just as he wants to be known for cutting a handsome figure in an expensive suit. He’s been working with a matchmaker for months, but just can’t make the plunge. Enter Ilya, a friend hooked up by the same matchmaker, apparently ready to extract revenge by stealing her client. “When you’re married,”he both warns and soothes Ivan, “you won’t recognize yourself.”Marriage is Nicolai Gogol’s almost existential protest against romantic farces that end in syrupy love fests. Rather than having the characters played straight — delivering ludicrous sentiments in calm, unaffected tones — director Elaina Artemiev creates a Fellini-esque 19th century Russia in which Ivan is wishy-washy to the point of schizophrenia and his sly matchmaker is a copper-headed witch with full cackle. The un-credited adaptation has Ilya and the angry suitor-competitor named Omelet yelling expletives, while the matchmaker slips in modern idioms, like “kiss him good-bye.”Although I prefer quietly delivered irony — and an intermission would have been nice — I found myself alternately weary of and captivated by the grotesque marionette show. Wendy Meaden’s ingeniously ornate costumes are coupled with heavily applied balls of rouge and hair buns aimed sharply at the ceiling. We reasonably conclude that society is filled with wind-up dolls and guys incapable of original thought or feeling, except perhaps for the inexplicable urge to run away from it all.

0
0
0
0
0

Recommended for you