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Franklin and Figaro - Farce about the revolution, but not revolutionary
Franklin and Figaro - Farce about the revolution, but not revolutionary
by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

FRANKLIN AND FIGARO
BY KRISTINA SUTHERLAND
DIRECTED BY JOY BROOKE FAIRFIELD
MACHA MONKEY
THROUGH NOVEMBER 17, 2007


This is an intriguing, historical story to create a play around. The title indicates that one might be seeing a lot of Benjamin Franklin in the play, since it's the story of when Franklin traveled to France to secure funds for the revolution. To the contrary, the only time we see Franklin, himself, is as a puppet. There is some amusing shadow puppetry, and a cute hand-puppet show, to liven up the proceedings.

The real focus of the story is Pierre Beaumarchais, the writer of the operas, The Marriage of Figaro and The Barber of Seville. Behind the scenes, he was also running guns for the rebels in the Americas, and depending on Franklin to come up with cash to pay him. James Weidman as Beaumarchais does a deft job of portraying the hapless playwright whose ability for subterfuge is slight to non-existent. He barely escapes punishment for possible treason.

The story is fashioned as classic farce, with mistaken identities, silly chase scenes, some over-the-top portrayals, and the classic happy ending. Some of the events are cleverly narrated by a faux troupe of actors, performing for a rich woman's salon. Madame Du Deffand, played solidly by Jody McCoy, provides loyalty toward the British as the counterpoint to the revolutionary fever gripping Paris. She seems a sad, slightly desperate woman, as events outstrip her ability to control her environment.

Sets by Erin Chanfrau, costumes by Jennifer Hurlbert, and puppet design by Sann Hall contribute well to the effect of the production. The plays-within-plays would benefit from better diction and slightly slower speech, as would a couple of the ensemble actors. Musicians Matthew Tevenan (cello) and Andrea Yoshida (viola) contribute a gentility of baroque music accompaniment.

While not very laugh-out-loud funny, it's an amusing piece, interesting topic and fun evening. For more information, go to www.machamonkey.org or www.brownpapertickets.com. Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.
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