13 Rue de l'Amour, a Classic French Farce by Georges Feydeau
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The last date listed for 13 Rue de l'Amour was Friday June 8, 2007 / 8:00pm.
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“As preposterous and outlandish as it may be, we need to believe it is the only possible outcome,” explains Stage Director John Going about the absurdity of Olney’s upcoming production of 13 Rue de L’Amour. Crafted by the father of French farce, Georges Feydeau, this comedy features a philandering husband, a wife set on revenge, a lovestarved countess-concierge, befuddled policemen, a perky French maid, and other plotting parties that are caught in a whirlwind of confusion and mistaken identity at 13 Rue de L’Amour.
Leading this comedic twister is Olney Associate Artistic Director John Going (Olney’s I Am My Own Wife, The Constant Wife, The Heiress, Morning’s at Seven, and Lend Me A Tenor). “I want the effects to be very ‘theatrical-ized,’ but the acting to be genuine and believable,” explains Going. He plans to bring out this juxtaposition by pitting a highly stylized, humorously artificial set against very convincing characters. “The audience needs to buy into the outrageousness as well as the idea that it couldn’t have happened any other way.”
The farcical set is in the talented hands of Scenic Designer James Wolk (Olney’s Anything Goes, The Heiress, and Morning’s at Seven). Wolk, who frequently collaborates with Going, is going to make the set look like a pseudo-set. He will create many doors that slam, an obviously faux fireplace, and rain made of rice. In hues of red, black, and white (and a lot of hot pink), the set will also feature a false proscenium and a curvilinear, art nouveau flare. “I hope that the audience will find the whimsy in the set as a backdrop for the reality,” says Wolk.
Though it is written in three acts, Going has decided to combine Acts I and II. “Because the first act is merely a set-up for the remaining two [acts],” says Going, “I decided to pick up the pace and combine the first two, leaving the audience with a feeling of ‘who-done-it’ at intermission. But not to worry, none of the funny will be lost.”
And the talented cast will make sure that the funny will ensue on stage. Playing the husband and wife that begin the confusion will be Olney veterans Lawrence Redmond as Justinian Duchotel and Ashley West as Leontine Duchotel. Redmond returns after playing here in Saint Joan, Anna Karenina, Becket, and Sight Unseen. West was last seen as Marie-Louise in this season’s The Constant Wife and Amy in 2003’s_ Charley’s Aunt _(both directed by Going).
Also returning to Olney is Halo Wines as Madame Spritzer, the love-starved countess-concierge. An Associate Artistic Director for Olney Theatre and National Players, her most recent Olney appearances include Maureen/Clara in_ In the Mood _(world premiere), Lavinia Penniman in The Heiress, and Esty in Morning’s at Seven. Jeffries Thaiss will play Gustave Moricet, a swinging bachelor in residence at 13 Rue de L’Amour. Thaiss was last seen in An Enemy of the People, Hedda Gabler, and The Heiress. Recently playing The Queen in last season’s Cinderella, Patricia Hurley will play Marie, the maid who does more than just clean. And Nick DePinto, a recent National Players alum, will play Jean-Pierre, a fashionable college student with unfortunate timing.
The police force will feature newcomers to the Olney stage. The Inspector of Police will be played by Ethan T. Bowen, seen recently at Woolly Mammoth Theater in The Faculty Room. Brandon McCoy will play First Policeman having played Guildenstern in Hamlet at Rep Stage and Alan in Picnic at The Bay Theatre Company. And Christopher Poverman will step into the role of Second Policeman, after appearing as Carl in _Glory of Living _with Didactic Theatre.
Along with Wolk, Going’s design team has many Olney regulars. Costume Designer Liz Covey will create outfits from the 1900. Like the set, the costumes will also be in shades of black, white, and red. Covey, along with Lighting Designer Dennis Parichy, Sound Designer Jarett C. Pisani, and Dialect Coach Elizabeth van den Berg were at Olney earlier this season as part of the design team for The Constant Wife (dir. John Going). New to Olney is Wig Designer Nicole Paul who has over 17 years of experience working on various theater, film, and television productions in and around the DC area, and is the founder/owner of High Definition Hair Inc., in downtown DC.
Georges-Léon-Jules-Marie Feydeau (1862 – 1921) was not only a French playwright, but also an actor and director. He wrote 39 plays between 1881 and 1916, taking the art of farce to new heights on the French stage. Called the greatest master of French comedy since Molière, his plots often depended on far-fetched cases of mistaken identity and he used complicated mechanical props and elaborate stage settings. His plays included The Girl from Maxim’s (1899), A Flea in Her Ear (1907), and Keep an Eye on Amélie! (1908). His farces have remained in the repertoire of the Comédie-Française.