Review: Marco Players find laughter on other side of 'The Fourth Wall'

A scene from the Marco Players production of 'The Fourth Wall.' From left:  Lisa Lang, as 'Peggy,' Randall Jones as 'Floyd,' Karen Anglin as 'Julia' and Joseph Lang, as 'Roger.'

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A scene from the Marco Players production of "The Fourth Wall." From left: Lisa Lang, as "Peggy," Randall Jones as "Floyd," Karen Anglin as "Julia" and Joseph Lang, as "Roger."

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

Cost: $23

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.

  • What: Play: "The Fourth Wall" | Read the review
  • Where: Marco Players Theater
  • Cost: $23
  • Age limit: All ages

Full event details »

— 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."

"All the world's a stage ..." E-mail me, csilk@naplesnews.com, find me on Twitter at @napleschris or read my Stage Door theater blog. You can also sign up to receive the Stage Door blog via email.

© 2010 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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