Director Luke Yankee skillfully showcases the musicality of Noel Coward's wry dialogue in this spot-on production. A fine ensemble pulls off perfect pacing and further steadies Yankee's sure hand. Elyot (a wonderfully fluid Freddy Douglas) is honeymooning with his new wife, Sibyl (Jennice Butler), when he bumps into his first wife, Amanda (an arresting Caroline Kinsolving), who also is honeymooning, with second husband Victor (Adam J. Smith). Elyot and Amanda had a fiery marriage, the heat of which has not cooled, and their new spouses are wet blankets. Though they try to convince themselves that safe and dull is better than upsetting and chaotic, Elyot and Amanda surrender to passion and flee together. Coward's 1930 script feels fresh here, despite the sometimes one-dimensional characters it engenders. The fact that each character is a simple type — Elyot the urbane playboy, Amanda the modern minx, Sibyl the dippy people-pleaser and Victor the gutless good guy — the deft actors bring humanity to the text without neglecting the gleefully frivolous comedy that comes with playing stock roles. And Coward's talent for hanging witty descriptors on dark urges is a sheer delight — when Sibyl annoys Elyot, he semi-politely threatens to cut off her head with a meat ax; when Victor asks Amanda about her fights with Elyot, she proudly boasts that she once “broke four gramophone records over his head,” an experience that was “very satisfying.” Bill Georges' lighting is as detail-oriented as the entire, precise production. International City Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Sept. 18. (562) 436-4610, ictlongbeach.org.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Aug. 26. Continues through Sept. 18, 2011
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