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Confederacy a funny farce with strong actors
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Confederacy a funny farce with strong actors

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

A Confederacy of Dunces
Book-It Theatre
Through October 11


September 19th was declared Book-It Theatre Day by Mayor Nickels, as Book-It opens its 20th anniversary season with A Confederacy of Dunces. Congratulations!

Adaptor and director Mary Machala suggests that you either hate main character Ignatius Reilly, or you love him. Book-It's production of A Confederacy of Dunces might also fall into that category, although really there's nothing to "hate" about the production - except for what an almost three-hour play does to your backside.

The best thing about the adaptation of the book is that the farce element is so clear. Ignatius is almost any of the main characters in Moliere, like The Imaginary Invalid or The Miser. There is door-banging and mugging and silliness galore. What's most missing of the Moliere elements is the "smart maid" character, the one who is trying to get over the main, unlikable guy. Here, the smart maid is inside Ignatius himself. Everything he tries goes wrong - sometimes terribly wrong.

At the beginning, everything is going Ignatius' way (as played sincerely by Brandon Whitehead), since his mother is still taking care of him at age 49 and he doesn't work. He wants to have a "rich inner life," and that includes not having to earn that lowly thing: money. But a bizarre traffic accident makes for a deep debt his mother must pay, so she finally demands that he go get work to help pay the debt. His mother (excellently played by Ellen McLain) is finally ready to escape the burden of her child living at home. Her character development over duration of the play is one of the sentiments we root for.

This is when life starts going downhill for Ignatius. He gets fired from jobs or doesn't fit in. He ignites factory workers to rebel against nothing, and becomes a hotdog vendor. There are a few interlocking stories, one having to do with a hapless policeman required to "bring in a character," played with a lot of mugging by David Goldstein. He gets the best costumes.

Other good ensemble actors include Cynthia Geary (of Northern Exposure fame) as a couple of strong women characters, Samar Lerman as Ignatius', um, girlfriend polemicist, and Bill Johns both as the besieged factory manager Mr. Gonzalez and a Gay man. Todd Licea does a small fun turn as Geary's husband in the best scenes in the play.

The ending is not very satisfying, since somehow Ignatius' girlfriend decides to show up and "save" him, so it peters out toward the end. But if you like farce, there's plenty of it to go around in this production. For more information, go to www.book-it.org or call 206-216-0833.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

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