- OTHER MEDIA
- review of THE FALSE SERVANT
- Reviewed by Jeffrey R. Smith
- of the San Francisco Bay Area Theater Critics Circle, 2005-11-08
- Abydos Theater of San Francisco has taken THE FALSE SERVRANT, an 18th
century Comedie Francaise, and successfully morphed it into a modern art
form. The central tenet of the play is a tried and tested perennial i.e.
a woman dressing up as man to surreptitiously evaluate the man she is in
love with. Shakespeare nearly made cross-dressing romantic espionage into
a genre. What gives this current production, at the Exit Theatre, an added
comedic boost is the choreography: it pervades and enhances the entire
performance. It seems there is not one step trod, nor prat fall fallen
nor faux pas stomped upon the stage that Choreographer Chimene Pollard
has left nothing to chance: the entire performance is nearly a dance number,
executed with fluidity and grace.
- If the play is indeed a dance, then Jonathon Leveck, as Lelio, is the
beau of the ball. His humor is found in his movements, his body language
and his facial expressions. He seems to have found inspiration for his
craft in Marceau, Chaplin, Keaton, Sellers and Van Dyke. MR Leveck occupies
the very epicenter of his contradictory character: a dashing, gallant rogue,
a lyrical con artist and a greedy bon vivant scallywag. MR Leveck uses
every form of comedy to wring peals of laughter out of this exuberant script.
- Abydos Theater has achieved an artistic refinement rarely evidenced
in San Francisco theaters. By moving beyond the usual mechanics of theater:
set design, costumes and acting, director Jessica Heidt has achieved a
courtly, old world feel to this play that extends beneath its French patina.
The script, originally crafted by Pierre Marivaux, was meticulously translated
and adopted by Ann and George Crowe. Ann, a French scholar in the strictest
sense of the word, was awarded her M.A. in French from the University of
Glasgow and also earned a Diplome Superier de Francais des Affaires in
Paris. Her choice of English words preserves the lofty aristocratic language
of the original French script without introducing additional bombast to
the English version.
- The play is a must for anyone who would like to experience the result
of artistic success gaining ascendancy over popular and commercial success.
For tickets to truly superlative, intimate theater, call 415 386-2373 [or