Lively Arts - January/February 2008

Love Loves A Pornographer

Review by Willard Manus

Circle X Theatre Co. goes for an Oscar Wilde-like satire of British upper-class sexual hypocrisy with its world premiere of Jeff Goode's LOVE LOVES A PORNOGRAPHER. As directed by Jillian Armenante, the play takes place in a drawing room (the sumptuous set is by Gary Smoot) where Lord and Lady Loveworthy (William Salyers and Gillian Doyle) have invited Reverend Miles Monger (Jim Anzide) and his wife (Johanna McKay) to tea and crumpets. Lord Loveworthy, we soon learn, is a failed novelist who desperately needs a positive review of his latest book from the Reverend, who moonlights on the side as a critic for the Times (a word he vainly spits out at every opportunity). There's no love lost between them and they quickly begin trading insults and threatening each other with bodily harm, much to the chagrin of their long-suffering--and insufferable--wives.

The play kicks into second gear with the arrival of the Loveworthys' scatty daughter Emily (Kathleen Rose Perkins) and her fiance Earl Kant (Matt Ford). Hearing the word Earl makes the Brits think he's the real thing--even though the homespun Kant looks and talks like a dimestore Daniel Boone. What follows is a complex and oft-bewildering plot which takes a lot of setting up, unfolding and resolving. By the time Act Two ends, the play's narrative thrust has long been dissipated, with explanatory speeches, off-stage action (and pratfalls by a comic butler, Weston Nathanson) replacing it. Consequently, a comedy that starts off promisingly becomes tiresome to sit through.

Instead of trying to imitate Oscar Wilde, Goode would do better to find his own voice as a playwright.

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