Funny Tangled mess at Annex
click here to go to the main SGN website | click here to go to Mobile main page
Funny Tangled mess at Annex
by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Love's Tangled Web
Annex Theatre
Through May 16


Love's Tangled Web, playing at Annex Theatre, is pretty much a tangled mess, but that's only partly a production problem. The script by Charles Ludlam is all over the place, inconsistent, and shocking. But if you have a few beers in you, it's likely one of the funniest riots you've seen in a while. There really isn't any kind of love in the story, except for the kind that's maybe part of lust and "making love" (though it's really "having sex" - calling it "love" is overkill).

Charles Ludlam's most famous play is The Mystery of Irma Vep, and it's the only one in consistent rotation at theaters. He founded The Ridiculous Theatrical Company, so it's an indication of the kind of play he liked to write. He seems to grab at any humorous device that could possibly, even remotely, drag a laugh from the audience. Does this production drag laughs? Yup. And some of them are even earned. It may be messy, but he still gets some good lines out.

The six-person cast consists of the Woodvilles, mother Eve (Laurie Utterback), daughter Sylvia (Kate Parker), and son Bertie "don't call me Ethelbert" (Patrick Walrath), who are rich, and whose money is coveted, and then the local pastor (Gerald B. Browning), Sylvia's former fiancé Bram Taylor (Daniel Wood), and Bram's new fiancé, Raeanne (Adria LaMorticella).

Sylvia has become incapable of walking and must be carried everywhere. The suggestion that she could possibly get around better if she uses a wheelchair gets a screeching, "How dare you!" Bram still worships Sylvia, but claims to Raeanne that he's only trying to help Sylvia in order to keep company with "somebodies." Eve is in love with the pastor, but no one knows it, and she loves to cook, which makes everyone around her gag. Bertie floats around the room singing and trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. Ballet dancing is one option. The pastor is a clichéd greedy man who is only trying to figure out who has the power over the money, so he can wrest it from her or him.

Annex Theatre, usually a minimal set producer, has gone all out on the set, which is as lush as could be seen on their stage. The upscale living room with outdoor balcony is gorgeously appointed with graceful divan, large sculpture, trinkets, and various wall decorations. Costumes are also lavish, with many costume changes in evidence as time moves through the play. The women look ravishing, but Bertie takes the cake. The one costume that is not ravishing is Bram's. His looks like you could smell it a mile away (though we don't). Sound effects are effective, funny, and timed well.

The cast does a creditable job with their roles, with newcomer Adria LaMorticella helping raise the competence by lowering the mugging and playing with her seriously loose glasses. Kate Parker starts out so stridently that it's as if she's in an 800-person theater, which is not so good in a 40-person theater. She settles down later, thankfully, and her performance gains from it.

It's farce, through and through. Is there a point? Probably not. But will you forget the harsh world outside for a little while? If you let yourself, most likely, and especially if you have a couple of drinks at their bar. For more information go to www.annextheatre.org or www.brownpapertickets.com or call 800-838-3006.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.