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05 May 2009

Enchanted April

Please click on the title above to link to the MX review. (Thanks, MX!)

1 comment:

Asheville Performing Arts Reviews: Online and Ontarget said...

From the C-T

Review: Talented cast breathe new life into old story

Spring is a wonderful time to see Asheville Community Theatre's “Enchanted April,” the story of four women who shake off the winter doldrums by renting a sunny castle in Italy for April.

Matthew Barber's script, based on the 1920s novel by Elizabeth Von Arnim, centers on the changes that can occur when people step out of their everyday routine and open themselves to life's myriad possibilities.

Cary Nichols gives a marvelous performance as Lotty, who, weary of Engand's rainy winter and her predictable life as wife and homemaker, proposes that she and a fellow club member, Rose (Delina Hensley), rent a castle in Italy.

Both women feel trapped in apparently loveless marriages. Lotty's husband, Mellersh (Michael Lilly), is a stodgy English gentleman who sees her primarily as an accessory to his busy routine. Rose and her husband, Fredrick (Jeff Messer), hardly speak to each other, their relationship shattered by the death of a child.

To help pay for their stay, Lotty and Rose arrange to share the castle with two other women whom they meet there. Guerin Piercy gives a wonderfully nuanced performance as Caroline, a great beauty who enjoys the advantages her looks give her, but yearns for someone who will love her for herself. Mrs. Graves (Pat Perkerson) is an austere old crone who is too busy making judgments on other people's behavior to see the loneliness in her life.

Hosting the visitors are the castle's genteel owner, Antony (Doug Hauschild), and his zany housekeeper, Castanza (Ginger Haselden), who speaks no English but whose frenetic gestures and muttering keep the audience laughing.

Just when the Italian sun begins to thaw the visitors' hearts, Lotty invites her husband to join her. The play is worth watching just to see Mellerish's discomfort when the castle's cantankerous plumbing system blows up during his bath.

Rose's husband, Fredrick, also shows up unexpectedly, and both men discover their wives have bloomed under the Italian sun.

Indeed, change is what it's all about in “Enchanted April” as all four women are transformed by their new surroundings and the opportunity to reevaluate themselves and their lives.

The well-designed set helps reinforce the characters' metamorphosis as they go from water-logged England to sunny Italy. Director Andrew Gall and a talented cast breathe new life into this admittedly dated but somehow timeless story of change and the hope that springs eternal.

Tim Reid reviews theater for the Citizen-Times.