In John Millington Synge's 1907 comedy, young drifter Christopher Mahon (Michael Newcomer) wanders into a rural, Irish public house, confessing that he just murdered his father during a brawl between the pair, having knocked him on the head with a loy. The bar-mistress, Pegeen Mike (fiery Lindsay Gould) initially goads this reluctant confession from the exhausted, witless fellow, but as it's met with reverence, and "Christy" becomes a local hero and object of desire among the village girls, he re-tells the story of the murder with growing extravagance and pride. This is all fine, until his father (director Geoff Elliott) shows up with a seething head wound, and Christy tries again to do the job correctly. He's now not only a liar but a murderer in the eyes of the locals. The great gap between a gallant story and a dirty deed is the crux of the tale, and its meandering morality is part of what incited its initial audience to riot. Playboy contains underpinnings of tragedy stemming from Christy's earnestness and loneliness, and his betrayal by Pegeen Mike. And for all its perversity and farce, it contains some of the most fetching and lyrical love scenes in contemporary literature. Elliot's staging comes imbued with naturalistic detail (Soojin Lee's mud-stained torn costumes, Stephen Gifford's rustic set with sheaths of hay dangling from the ceiling, streaks of rain sliding down the one window) and an acting style to match. Elliot's pacing is just right, gentle enough to catch the emotion and the beauty of the language, yet brisk and smart enough to serve the comedy. Amidst the lovely performances are Jill Hill's Widow Quinn (who shares the dainty, word-wise qualities of Mance's Countess in Figaro); the eccentric and idiosyncratic William Dennis Hunt's Philly Cullen, and Apollo Dukakis' skeptical Michal James Flaherty. Elliot's biggest misstep is miscasting himself as the edler Mahon, when there are actors in his own production that could obviously capture the requisite anarchic lunacy. Elliott is of a classical mould, and imbues the rusty nail of a character with far too much decorum and elegance, in voice and manner. A Noise Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Sun., 2 p.m.; Through April 30, 8 p.m.; Sun., May 9, 2 & 7 p.m.; Through May 14, 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; thru May 22. (818) 240-0910.
Sat., April 17, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; April 29-30, 8 p.m.; Sun., May 9, 2 & 7 p.m.; May 12-14, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m. Starts: April 17. Continues through May 22, 2010