Theater review: 'Celadine' at the Colony Theatre
Valentine’s Day may have passed, but the charms of Larry Cedar must be sung. The tall, acerbic actor, known for his delicious turns in Reprise’s “She Loves Me” and HBO’s “Deadwood,” is the reason to see “Celadine,” Charles Evered’s Restoration-style romp now at the Colony Theatre.
Cedar plays Rowley, a royal in disguise, in this diverting comedy of art, love and loss in 1670s England. Our eponymous heroine (Giselle Wolf) is a writer of rare talent and, alas, even rarer audiences. Since the death of her young daughter, she’s retreated to her coffeehouse, cared for by barmaid and secret admirer Mary (the invaluable Holly Hawkins) and a mute young tailor (Will Barker) with a penchant for cross-dressing. James Dobson would not approve.
Stephen Gifford’s two-story tavern set, crowned by a swoop of scarlet curtains, looks ready for Douglas Fairbanks to unleash some spirited mayhem. Yet the emphasis is on subterfuge rather than swashbuckle. About the time Rowley enlists former flame Celadine’s assistance in a bit of espionage, dashing thespian Elliott (Michael A. Newcomer) shows up in need of a new play. No prizes for guessing there may be a connection.
Some of the jokes are a stretch, but Evered’s wit gives the cast, particularly Cedar, room to play. At ease with “Celadine’s" ornate language and screwball sensibility, the actor signals to the audience he has everything well in hand. Whether relishing Celadine’s barbs or restraining the enthusiasm of an offstage trumpeter, Cedar conveys the sybaritic air of a man who has seen and done everything — but isn’t too stuck on himself to go one more round. And he pulls off A. Jeffrey Schoenberg’s outsize costumes and Joni Rudesill’s wigs with aplomb.
Director Andrew Barnicle finds more intrigue in the characters’ suppressed emotions than in the mild plot. The fight sequences lack precision, but the play’s heart isn’t its sense of physical danger. “Celadine” turns out to be the story of a woman struggling to acknowledge a tragedy and move on. That she does so in a corset instead of on a couch, quoting Aphra Behn instead of Kubler Ross, is what gives this tale a surprising poignancy.
– Charlotte Stoudt
“Celadine” Colony Theatre Company, 555 N. 3rd St., Burbank. 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sundays. Also 3 p.m. Feb. 20. Ends March 7. $37-$42. Contact: 818-558-7000, Ext. 15 or www.colonytheatre.org. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.
Photo: Giselle Wolf, Michael A. Newcomer, center, and Larry Cedar. Photo Credit: Michael Lamont.