The Barber of Seville
The Pierre Augustin-Beaumarchais farce The Barber of Seville was adapted and directed by Stephen Wadsworth, and will be playing at McCarter until Sunday, May 4.
Rosine has traveled around after the death of her parents. She has settled in Seville and become the ward of Dr. Bartolo, who keeps her under lock and key. His plan to marry her is jeopardized by Count Almaviva, who has met Rosine during her travels. The Jack-of-all-trades Figaro is hired to assist Almaviva win over the love of his life despite her being imprisoned by Bartolo.
The cast was brilliant! Adam Green played the mischievous Figaro to perfection, and Neal Bledsoe will have you rooting for Count Almavida. You’ll love to hate the dastardly Bartolo thanks to Derek Smith, Naomi O’Connell plays the sympathetic, yet calculating Rosine with ease, and Cameron Folmar’s portrayal of Bazile will certainly keep you laughing.
One of the gems of this performance was that the actors break the stage’s barrier, and interact with the audience. This engagement is refreshing and accentuates the comedy. It also makes the performance feel more organic.
Timing is everything when it comes to a good farce. Green, Bledsoe, O’Connell, Smith, and Folmar, as well as the supporting cast, excelled in the precision of their delivery. It was sheer poetry to hear the battle of the wits.
Another gem was Rosine’s voice which was pure magic during one scene. What a bonus to get a taste of the opera during the play. This was the cherry on top of their brilliant performances. A third gem would be the beautiful period costumes!
I feel like I laughed throughout the entire performance, and I was not alone. The roaring audience gave the cast a standing ovation. If you enjoy comedies, or need a good laugh, you should most certainly purchase a ticket.
The Barber of Seville can be paired with The Marriage of Figaro on the select Saturdays of April 12, 19, 26, and also on Sunday, May 4.
Run time is 2 hours 15 minutes with one intermission in the Matthews Theatre. The Barber of Seville is definitely suitable for children over the age of 10, and possibly as young as 8. The rapid fire wit will lose younger children.
The Marriage of Figaro
The Marriage of Figaro continues in Almavida’s estate Aguas-Frescas, three years after we’ve left the gang in The Barber of Seville. It is another Pierre Beaumarchis play that has been adapted and directed by Stephen Wadsworth. Count Almavida has married Rosine, and Figaro has found his bride-to-be Suzanne. He served the Count, and she the Countess. Bartolo, Marceline, and Bazile are on hand from Barber, and the introduction of Count Almavida’s page, Magan Wiles, as the young girl-crazed boy Cherubin added to the romp.
All was well with Figaro and his soon-to-be wife Suzanne, until she tells him Almavida plans on keeping the tradition of sharing the wedding night with the Countess’ lady-in-waiting. Figaro, Suzanne, and Countess Rosine join forces to foil the Count’s plans. Meanwhile, Almavida is trying to convince Figaro to marry the aging Marceline, Bartolo’s housekeeper, to pay off his debt to her.
We were treated to Naomi O’Connell’s operatic voice in Barber, but in Marriage, we are bestowed the exuberant dance scene at the end, which was as joyous as Fezzwig’s party in A Christmas Carol. The actors fortunately continued interacting with the audience in this play, and the laugh-out-loud humor kept us all entertained.
There are many twists in the story to pique the audience’s interests, and the acting is superb. The soliloquies are shorter than in Barber, and there are many double entendres, which may not make it as suitable for kids under 14. However, some suggestive thoughts might go over the kids’ heads, so this play could be fine for kids 12 and over if you’re a liberal parent.
Adam Green (Figaro) is again the stand out, but Derek Smith (Bartolo) and Cameron Folmar (Bazile) also shine a little brighter than the rest in their comedic delivery. Bravo also to director Stephen Wadsworth for an outstanding production!
I loved both plays, but I slightly preferred the simpler plot of Barber, while a friend of mine leaned more towards Marriage. Both are fine and witty plays that are very appealing, and I suggest seeing both, perhaps paired on one day (April 12, 19, 26, and May 4) if you have the time. By the way, the costumes are sheer eye candy, made from different textures and bold colors, making the performances visually stunning!
The Marriage of Figaro is playing until May 3, and the running time is 3 hours 15 minutes with one intermission.
As a bonus, I just spied an amazing offer! Now until April 18, you can buy a ticket to one performance and get one FREE for the following dates: April 18, 20, 26, May 2 & 3. Use the promo code BOGO. Enjoy!