Are you ready for a modernized French farce? Originally titled “Le Metronamie” and penned by French author Alexis Piron, the play was adapted into English by David Ives. No small feat, since THE METROMANICS is written in rhyming couplets in honor of its main characters, steeped as they are in the art of poetry. In fact, this is not a play about subway aficionados who go nuts – but rather about individuals so obsessed with poetry that they have lost touch with our reality and end up looking, well, crazy. As befits a farce, this is a tale of mistaken identities, disguises, and surprises galore. Untangling them is part of the fun.
Francalou (David Hunt Stafford) is holding a party in his Paris mansion for all the poets around. You see, the wealthy Francalou is a poet himself – and has achieved no small amount of notoriety from romantic poems he published in “Parnasus,” the local poetry newsletter. In order to maintain some anonymity, however, he published those famed poems under a pseudonym – a female pseudonym – in keeping with their amorous nature. Francalou’s daughter Lucille (Josephine Nunez) has just returned home from college, and he wants to introduce her to his circle of friends – and also to play the matchmaker to help her find the perfect mate. Meanwhile, the young poet Damis (Alec Anderson Carraso) has fallen madly in love with the author of those exciting love poems in “Parnasus” and has penned a note to “her” asking for her hand in marriage. When he hears that his love will be at Francalou’s party, he make sure that he is also there. Very much like the motivation for the dapper Dorante (Jeremy Schaye), who is seeking a mate himself. As soon as he sees the ditsy Lucille – a girl who is so obsessed with poetry that she is unwilling to consider any suiter who is not a poet – he is smitten. Sad to say, his way with words falls resoundingly flat.
Meanwhile, Damis’ servant Mondor (John Wallace Combs) has accompanied his master to the event, even though he thinks that Damis’ passion for a woman he never met is foolish. But he is also a man who enjoys the fair sex, along with wine, exotic food, and song – and finds himself attracted to both Lucille and Lisette, Francalou’s canny female servant who also happens to be the most grounded of the bunch. Enter Baliveau (Hisato Masayama), Damis’ uncle, a man who questions Damis’ excitement about writing but also want to establish a close paternal relationship with him. As it turns out, each of the principals must assume an alternate identity to participate in the goings-on – so that soon no one is sure who anyone is anymore. And so it goes.
THE METROMANIACS is cute and often witty as it rambles on in clever couplets delivered by these frequently bumbling and definitely screwy characters. Director Marjorie Hayes helms the production with an eye to maintaining its farcical nature, often accented by shots of physical comedy. The talented cast gets into the story with enthusiasm and seems to enjoy the twists and turns the story presents. Kudos to set designer Jeff G. Rack, who creates an otherworldly ballroom in keeping with eighteenth century Paris, as well as Derrick McDaniel’s lighting and Nick Foran’s sound. Special delights were Michele Young’s elegant period costumes and Judi Lewin’s hair/wig/makeup. The overall effect was sumptuous and inviting. THE METROMANIACS is a fun show which will entertain audiences as they attempt to sort out the plot puzzles.
THE METROMANICS runs through August 21, 2022, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays through Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Theatre 40 performs in the Reuben Cordova Theatre located at 241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Tickets are $35. For information and reservations, call 310-364-0535 or go online.