Back Stage - November 21, 2007


Love Loves a Pornographer

November 21, 2007
By Jeff Favre

Few fellows have found fancier, funnier ways this fall to turn a phrase than Jeff Goode, who with his new work pays homage to the humorous plays of the Victorian era and injects a healthy dose of modern edge to the dialogue. Crisply directed by Jillian Armenante for Circle X Theatre Company, it stars an ensemble that steps perfectly into the era and classes.

Like many Victorian comedies, this one is set in a stylish English drawing room, in this case one belonging to novelist Lord Loveworthy (William Salyers) and his wife, Lady Lillian (Gillian Doyle). Their guests are the Rev. Miles Monger (Jim Anzide), who works as a literary critic, and his wife, Millicent (Johanna McKay). While the couples await the arrival from America of the Loveworthys' daughter Emily (Kathleen Rose Perkins) and her new fiancé (Matt Ford), Lord Loveworthy informs Monger that by the end of day he will reveal secrets that will prompt Monger to pay for Emily's wedding, as well as give Loveworthy's latest book a rave review — even if Monger hates it.

The story is simple but has a few well-placed twists that keep it surprising. Goode's strongest suit is the clever dialogue, loaded with alliteration such as "…the discourse during the course of our courtship." The cast brings the well-defined characters into sharp focus. McKay shines as the seemingly uptight Millicent. Her confined movements and nervous laughter, which gradually dissipate as Millicent gains confidence, magnify some of the play's funniest moments. The same can be said of the playful Perkins, who portrays Emily as a child reared in a repressed home who is now enjoying vices such as smoking and getting a tattoo. Armenante keeps the action flowing and the dialogue moving at a blistering pace, snuggly fitting in twice as much dialogue as would normally be delivered in a two-hour running time. Also impressive is Gary Smoot's set design, which, besides re-creating an opulent and attractive drawing room, includes dozens of gold-framed paintings surrounding the stage and the audience.

Presented by Circle X Theatre Company at [Inside] the Ford at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood. Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2 & 7 p.m. (Dark Thu. Nov. 22 and Sun. Dec. 23.) Nov. 17-Jan. 20, 2008. (323) 461-3673.