Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Amusing Ambiguities"

When playwright Georges Feydeau (pictured, at left) presented his farcical plays in fin de siècle Paris, France, patrons typically threw tomatoes and cabbages, and reviewers showed no mercy in relegating his plays to those enjoyed by the less cultured of society.

His plays often involved a mistaken motive or a mistaken identity, and were filled with misunderstandings and great coincidences. Though dismissed in his day, he is now considered one of the great playwrights of the Edwardian era.

In keeping with Feydeau’s flair for people turning up in the wrong places, the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, 1230 North Delaware Street, Indianapolis, will be the host of the Victorian Theatre by Candlelight’s spring production of “Amusing Ambiguities.”

To view this montage of three of Feydeau’s short plays, patrons will rotate among three different rooms of the presidential mansion to experience each play in a different setting. The Harrison’s furnishings, antiques, candlelight recreate the ambiance of 19th Century salon theatres.

In “Ladies’ Man,” staged in the master bedroom, a young woman seeks the counsel of her older cousin regarding how to deal with her gentleman suitor who is pressing marriage. However, both women are in for a surprise when they learn new things about this enigmatic young man.

In the back parlor, the audience will enjoy, “Romance in A Flat.” A young music student awaits her new maestro to instruct her in piano. However, the play takes a most amusing twist when we learn that the music teacher has appeared at the wrong flat and was indeed expecting someone quite different.

A comedy of errors unfolds in the dining room in “Wooed and Viewed.” An hysterical woman calls on her lawyer neighbor with a most unusual request for dealing with her jealous husband. The lawyer believes she wants a divorce, but she has other plans for retaliation.

“Amusing Ambiguities” opens on 20 April, and will be performed every Friday and Saturday evening through 5 May. There is a matinee at 2 p.m. 29 April. Tickets are $20 per person. Needless to say, reservations are highly recommended.

The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, a 16-room Italianate style house, was constructed by Harrison in 1874 and is a National Historical Landmark recognized by the United States Department of the Interior.

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