By Anthony D'Alessandro
By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
As the couple sets up housekeeping, the entire neighborhood seems to move in with them. There’s the realtor, a roofer, a gardener and his wife, a hotelier, an egg lady, a shop owner and the next-door neighbor — an old British expatriate named Miles (Jacob Witkin) whose housewarming gift is a puppet of Orlando Furioso, the legendary medieval knight. Miles is an avuncular encourager given to calling Steven "old boy" every other line and lamenting his lover Perceval’s death in a mountain-climbing incident. We quickly surmise something is wrong with this picture, however. Elaine plays the buoyant, American signora whom the locals adore, but moody Steven is a stick-in-the-mud fumbler who must ask the roofer (Charley Rossman) to show him how to operate his new tape player.
Worse, Elaine cannot get her husband to display any kind of affection toward her. (Really worse, he talks to the puppet a lot.) Instead, Steven robotically mumbles that outward emotion and expressions of love just aren’t in his DNA. How this will all play out isn’t in question, since Orlando is told in flashback and opens with Steven preparing to sell the villa after living there for two years — alone. The problem with the story that follows is that there isn’t one. Instead, for nearly 130 minutes Chantler presents seven very similar scenes in which half the town invariably reassembles itself in the Maddoxes’ living room and argues about where the new couch should go.
Eventually Carla (Roberta Orlandi), a local shopkeeper whom Elaine befriends, shows up and suddenly there’s focus — and a noticeable temperature rise in the theater. As played by Orlandi, Carla is the devil in a blue dress, which, in Act 2, promisingly turns red. Yet nothing comes of the sultry Carla’s flirtatious moves around Steven. Either Mr. Maddox is extremely virtuous or more seriously asocial than even he realizes.
There are certainly questions raised during the evening about Steven’s lack of ardor (gay? impotent? Asperger’s syndrome?) and the deeper reasons behind old Miles’ recurring lamentations about Perceval. But questions by themselves don’t make a mystery, especially when the author seems to willfully throw away opportunities to draw us into the Maddoxes’ world (why did they ever marry in the first place?), and when some improbable resolutions surface at play’s end.
Director Judy Rose doesn’t help Orlando’s credibility much, either. Some of her "Sicilians" speak in a mamma mia! vaudeville impersonation of Italian English and there are gaps of dead air between Steven and Elaine when their dialogues should snap and overlap. While Weber’s character is genuinely likable, Christian’s monotone reading of Steven is tenuous at best and, on opening night, he had not yet settled into his lines. During the critical housewarming scene, canned guitar music inexplicably vies with conversations and, even more puzzling, Danny Truxaw’s villa set has a pile of stone steps obstructing a living-room archway — suggesting that either the Maddoxes are expecting suicide bombers or director Rose wants her actors to take their time with entrances. Either way, Orlando’s obstacles add up to a lot of downtime in the theater.
MACBETT| By EUGENE IONESCO | Il Dolce Theater Company at the GLOBE PLAYHOUSE, 1107 N. Kings Road, West Hollywood | Through December 12 | (310) 458-3312
A WORD WITH ORLANDO| By DAVID T. CHANTLER | At the ODYSSEY THEATER, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles | Through December 19 | (310) 477-2055