STORY: Lord Are is vain, obnoxious and self-centered, and his sole raison d’etre is to strut like a peacock through his self-delusional world—early 18th century England. He’s rude to his servants, such as footman Bob Hedges, and barely tolerant of aristocrats like Mr. Hardache, who offers his daughter, Ann, in marriage to Lord Are.
Ann, terribly bored with her foppish husband, concocts a scheme to convince Lord Are that his manor is inhabited by ghosts. Instead, dressed as the spirit, she is killed by the unimpressed Are, who promptly pins the deed on his unwitting footman. Bob is encouraged to go to his death by the local parson in order to keep England safe for the ruling class, in exchange for a chance at happiness in the afterlife.
HIGHLIGHTS: Contemporary playwright Edward Bond long has skewered traditional mores and, in the case of this twoact work written in 1979-80, savages the upper-crust comedies of Richard Sheridan and other playwrights of the Restoration period of English history. A masterful performance by Michael Brightman as the insufferable snob Lord Are propels this presentation, shrewdly shaped by director Milton Zoth to accentuate the gaping chasm in quality of life between the boorish ‘haves’ and the repressed ‘have-nots.’
OTHER INFO: The playwright’s major gaffe is an overly long and ponderous second act. That’s a shame, because Bond’s droll dialogue and the performances of Zoth’s cast make this a fascinating presentation for the most part.
Still, there’s much to admire in this production: Brightman delivers his witty lines with considerable aplomb, exemplified in his first-act exit line to Bob, “Feed the toast to the hawks on your way to prison.” That line and its delivery epitomize Lord Are’s indifference, and Brightman delivers a meticulously calibrated performance.
Luke Lindberg delightfully fills Bob with merriment and wonder even as he prepares for an undeserved death in the gallows. His boyish charm and exuberance contrast noticeably with Lore Are’s stuffy arrogance.
The show’s most ridiculous moment is handled in bravura style by Gwynneth Rausch as Lord Are’s imperious mother. The apple certainly didn’t fall far from this worthless tree.
Restoration, despite that tedious second act, is decidedly different and certainly worthy of your time and attention.
RATING: A 4 ON A SCALE OF 1-TO-5.
VENUE: GRANDEL THEATRE, 3610 GRANDEL SQUARE
DATES: AUG. 12, 13 AND 14
TICKETS: $15-$25; 361-5664 OR BROWNPAPERTICKETS.COM