By Sara Dudley Brown
If you have a hankering to see a funny, really beautifully acted and fast-paced British farce involving a few extramarital affairs, well, four actually, with a hilarious script, rush to see “Key for Two,” at Little Theatre of Alexandria.
Director Elenore Tapscott has found the perfect troupe of actors to make this show fly by, and when it’s done, all you want to do is hear some of the better lines again so you can correctly remember them!
This naughty bit of fluff may just be the exact antidote for what is ailing us in the metro area right now. Down in the doldrums? Pout no more and instead enjoy co-writers’ John Chapman’s and Dave Freeman’s mastery of English absurdity However, if you take umbrage at the mere mention of a woman cohabiting with two, yes two married men in the same week, ahem, but NOT at the same time, stay as far away as you can get from this play. I’m just saying.
This delightful piece is set in 1980’s Brighton, England and tells the story of Harriet, a divorcee (maybe), whose husband has not only cheated on her but has done such nefarious things, he’s still in jail in Peru. Needless to say, she’s in need of money to keep her Regency flat in Brighton and the style of living to which she’s become accustomed. Toward that end, she is uh, “sleeping” with two married men, accepting housekeeping money, and trying to keep her schedule straight so the men’s days or evenings with her don’t overlap when her old friend Anne lands on her doorstep, needing a place to stay in London.
Fresh from New Zealand, Anne has left her veterinarian husband, Richard. There are some crackerjack lines about him and his attention to the sheep in New Zealand, and the fact that he over-imbibes. Spoiler alert: he takes a tumble over the sofa in Harriet’s living room, which would have broken an ordinary man’s neck. I spoke with the fight choreographer, Ian Claar, who apparently taught the cast techniques to keep them safe while making pratfall situations look really dangerous.
Needless to say, the two men with whom Harriet is involved each show up unannounced, and she is able through the magic of Tapscott’s superb direction to keep them apart. She tells them each stories that have a slight ring of truth about them, but ultimately, of course, the wives have occasion to drop by, and everything gets sticky and Anne, played hilariously by Dana Gattuso, becomes manic. Well, OK, it’s because Harriet suggested Anne look “busy,” when they have to turn the apartment into a nursing home—don’t even ASK why they had to do that! Additionally, some of the best lines in the play are about Harriet’s “fictional” mummy. Her mum is blamed as the reason Harriet must ask the men for more and more housekeeping money. This makes them complain about mummy’s overindulgences eloquently, and often with show-stopping lines.
Suffice it to say, Harriet, deliciously played by Charlene Sloan, and Gordon, one of her lovers, an advertising executive played by the dashing and seriously British Peter Harrold, set up the timing and wild situations that play out over the two hours running time of the show. They, with her other lover, Alec, played by the marvelously talented Cal Whitehurst, make the situation seem almost reasonable. However, joining the cozy threesome are their two wives, expertly acted by Elizabeth Replogle as Magda, Gordon’s wife, and Liz LeBoo, who plays Alec’s wife, Mildred. Justin Latus rounds out the excellent cast as Richard, the alcoholic husband of Harriet’s friend Anne. I know, it’s confusing, but you won’t care. Trust me. You’ll just be howling over the ridiculously complicated situations.
I can’t leave this account of “Key for Two” without mentioning the beautiful period and spot-on costumes by costume designer, Juliana Cofrancesco. I especially enjoyed the women’s dresses and evening clothes, the men’s suits and silk pajamas, as well as Gordon’s bespoke looking suits and matching shoes in the second act. Additionally, the set by Travis Downing served as a perfect playground for the antics of this delightful crowd! It worked beautifully for all the pratfalls, antics and people in constant motion. It looked splendid, suggesting the era, but also translated as quite posh. Apparently, her guys have treated her very well indeed. See for yourself.
“Key for Two” runs through March 18 and tickets may be purchased by calling the box office 703-683-0496 or contacting the theatre at www.thelittletheatre.com.