IF YOU GO
What: A.R. Gurney play about a bored housewife who becomes obsessed with what's on the other side of her wall
When: 8 p.m. Wed. - Sat.; 3 p.m. Sun. through April 25
Where: 1055 N. Collier Blvd. Marco Island
Information: Call 642-7270 or themarcoplayers.com
Something Else: The theater is located in the Marco Town Center Mall directly across from the Crazy Flamingo restaurant.
On the Web: Sign up to receive more theater news from the Stage Door blog via email.
BEYOND THE FOURTH WALL
Feature: Behind the wall with unconventional plot marcoislandflorida.com
Review: Chock full of hit-home mots curtainup.com
Review: The liberal WASP's answer to Neil Simon talkinbroadway.com
Review: All the living is a stage nytimes.com
Read excerpts from "The Fourth Wall" at Google Books books.google.com
MARCO ISLAND — Farce has found a home on Marco Island. The Marco Players find four actors who understand that a good farce means leaving 110% on the stage, stick them in front of an audience and watch the laughs roll in. By the way, this is A.R. Gurney's "The Fourth Wall" and Barbara Bush is on the phone.
The play - more political than Gurney's love affairs to New England's WASPs - was written during the first Bush presidency and updated after George W. took office. The wall - the proscenium facing the audience - serves as a metaphor for society. What Gurney wants his audiences to ponder is nothing less than the decline and fall of civilization - our predilection being a comfortable couch and sitcom familiarity. Shaw's "Saint Joan" becomes a major symbol, but we all know how that story ends.
But how does this story start? Housewife Peggy (Lisa Lang) becomes obsessed with a blank wall in her apartment. Husband Roger (Joseph Lang) calls in reinforcements - old friend Julia (Karen Anglin) and college drama professor Floyd (Randall Jones). There's also the wall, but alas, there are no Pink Floyd references.
The four characters move from stage cliche (best friend steals husband) to stage cliche (orphan discovers long-lost mother) in ever more bizarre fashion while arguing over who gets which plot and how to stage a proper exit line. There's an occasional break for music - courtesy the player piano programed with somewhat obscure Cole Porter tunes. There are also unplanned breaks while the cast waits for the howls of laughter to die down.
Director Brad Goetz has his actors at the perfect pitch for a farce. Anglin hits the stage with a poofy beehive worthy of Snooki, from MTV's "Jersey Shore" - the resemblance (and the stack of hair) is uncanny. She rolls her consonants, widens her eyes with dramatic style, flips her hair and draws out her lines with a sly grin that lets the audience know that she's aware this is a farce and she's going to over-act it to the hilt. Joseph Lang puffs away at his pipe with all the pretension of an English lord throughout the show - except when he blurts out lines that bring down the house.
Jones pops in wearing a self-referential T-shirt with "line?" printed across the front and rips off monologues about bored students and "The Brady Bunch" before burying his head in Lisa Lang's breasts. He's got manic energy to spare and spreads it about the stage with glee. For her part, Lisa Lang stands on a literal soap box (which they make a point to show the audience) wearing a frilly pink apron and an oven mitt to deliver her diatribe. She denounces Coca-Cola (amongst other things) before declaring plans to march off to Washington and change the world - as soon as she finds a green vegetable to serve with dinner.
Angela Hinton's costumes - sleek black and gold for Anglin's predatory New Yorker to tweed jacket and sandals for Jones' hipster professor (love the scarf!) - capture the characters. Surreal Rene Magritte prints sprinkled about the drawing room set add another layer of interest.
The giddy, peppy spirit of "The Fourth Wall" bubbles over time and again. Yes, it wants to be serious and yes, it might have something to say about politics and society in general. The show rewards literate theater-goers with dozens of throwaway jokes (there's even an August Wilson line), but you will laugh at the antics even if you don't know why "the British do this sort of play much better then the Americans."