Terrible timing, a dose of debauchery and scheming spouses collide to create an evening of laughter for Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s production of Georges Feydeau’s Parisian farce “An Absolute Turkey.”
The events of the play could make for one very awkward Thanksgiving, as the dreaded discussions of politics at the table loom for many heading into that turkey dinner with the family. That discomfort capitulated into a mountain of over-the-top farcicality Faydeau’s play is known for. “An Absolute Turkey” itself has nothing to do with the American holiday, but rather provides the comedic escape many may be looking for.
“It’s fun and it’s funny and it’s lighthearted and to be honest I think the world is really hurting right now and people could use a good laugh,” said Natalia Cuevas, a fifth-semester graduate acting student in an interview with me earlier this week, who is playing in the role of Lucienne.
The entire cast was energized in performance and it shone throughout the three acts. The comedic timing exhibited was precise and kept the audience laughing again and again. Though there were some moments that seemed to go over many people’s heads, it did not stagnate the performance as there was some kind of joke, gesture, vocal intonation, pose, or comedic melodrama right behind it.
“I thought the show was absolutely hilarious. It wasn’t what I was expecting. I knew it was a comedy and I thought it was going to be more Thanksgiving themed because of the title and the time it was released. The show got me in a different kind of holiday spirit,” said Alex Loukalis, a seventh semester finance major.
Hailing from the Actors Equity Association joining the student cast were Brooks Brantly in the role of Redillon and John Leonard Thompson in the role of Gerome. Brantly played an aristocratic womanizer interested only in getting into Lucienne frocks, served by his long-time butler, Gerome, who doubled as both a period wing man and caring father figure. As the play resolved there was an eventual resignation from Brantly’s character tying up the chaos that ensued after act two- where a full stage battle royal takes place as the events of the first two acts climax humorously.
“I thought the show had plenty of twists and turns. It wasn’t at all linear, but the story did not matter, which made it funny,” said William Bryant, a fifth semester history major.
The truth of farce is that the story doesn’t matter. The comedy and energy of the show doesn’t come from the plot, but rather the absurdity of the scenarios the characters find themselves in. Just when one might think something couldn’t possibly go one way because it would be too predictable, it does and it’s funny.
As the action occurred on stage the complex deceits and manipulation from the characters played out well and blended with the esthetic of the set- no walls, a see-through false proscenium, a backdrop of empty picture frames and lavish furniture. All of these elements contributed to the construction of a metaphor for the audience, which was to see through each characters schemes and motivations. It is what scenic designer Abigail Copeland and director Paul Mullins wanted.
“The first time we [the creative team] talked to Paul about the show, we talked about how we didn’t want it to feel like a museum piece because it is a period piece,” said Copeland, a fifth semester graduate scenic design student who designed the productions set, “We didn’t want to be trapped by the period or have it feel enclosed. We knew we needed doors and furniture, but that’s what we wanted, so we distilled the rooms down to their essence, the things that suggest a room. We were trying to show that these characters have this façade whereby everyone wants the same thing- money, sex and power.”
“An Absolute Turkey” runs now through Dec. 10. Tickets are available at crt.uconn.edu.
Matthew Gilbert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.