Friday, October 4, 2013

Play Review: "You Never Can Tell" at the Pearl Theater

You can’t go to New York City without seeing a play. Or at least I can’t. So my grandma and I made our way to 42nd Street to the Pearl Theater last week. The theater used to be on 2nd Avenue and 4th Street (really downtown). It is now on 11th Avenue, but it still retains its cozy, intimate feel with a small venue where there are no bad seats.

We paid $65 each to see YouNever Can Tell by George Bernard Shaw, a classic piece. And believe me, this show was worth every penny. If you don’t know the story-line, the general idea is that a family without a father goes to a seaside town in England to discover that their long-lost father lives there. It’s a light comedy that supposedly was Shaw’s satire on Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. It is happy and fun, and everyone left the theater with full smiles.

The sets were quite pretty, with a lovely seascape in the background and adorable wicker furniture on stage. And the costumes were fun, with the men in suits or tuxes and the women in lovely day dresses or gowns, depending on the occasion (the entire play takes place in single day). But a play with a great backdrop and nice costumes means nothing without the actors.

And the cast was incredible. Many of the actors had been working at the theater for at least a decade, and even the newer stars were spectacular. Emma Wisniewski and Ben Charles were the two young actors playing the infectiously funny twins of Dolly and Phillip Clandon. The characters’ candor and wit was for me the most enjoyable part of the play; their matching outfits and cute grins only added to my mirth. Their older sister Gloria Clandon was played by the beautiful Amelia Pedlow, who reminded me of a (very) young Elizabeth Taylor. Robin Leslie Brown was their mother, Margaret Clandon; a Pearl founder, her acting experience was quite obvious. Sean McNall played the lovable silly character of Mr. Valentine, the dentist (or “ivory snatcher” or “gum architect” as Phillip liked to refer to him). Even the waiter Walter Boon, played by Dan Daily, was likable, and the children (Dolly and Phillip are teenagers) treat him like a father-figure. Boon’s son, the matter-of-fact lawyer Walter Bohun (Zachary Spicer), only appears in the play for the last scene, but his good looks (similar to those of Cary Elwes in The Princess Bride) and witty charm had me on his side immediately. The facial expressions of all of these actors, and the way they delivered their lines, were right on the money. Such timing! I couldn’t help but laugh out loud throughout the entire performance.

I recommend this play, I recommend this theater. Five stars!

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