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The Clandestine Marriage

by Rich See

I'll sacrifice the whole sex for her.
---Lord Ogleby

Folger Theatre takes a bawdy turn into merry olde England with its production of The Clandestine Marriage. Filled with campy mistaken identities and misconstrued meanings, all's well that ends well and the audience is laughing right up until the curtain.

Written by 18th Century actor and playwright David Garrick and his friend George Colman, the adventure follows the romantic entanglement of Fanny Sterling and her beaux Mr. Lovewell. Employed by Fanny's father, Lovewell has fallen in love with the girl and she with him. Going against the ruling law of the day, they have run off and secretly married while Lovewell tries to increase his fortune and estimation in the eyes of the elder Mr. Sterling. Meanwhile, Sterling -- an extremely wealthy man -- is trying to buy his family a title of nobility. His chosen route to the coveted title is by marrying off his eldest daughter -- the self-absorbed Miss Sterling -- to the Sir John Melvil, nephew of Lord Ogleby. Unfortunately for Lovewell and Miss Sterling, both Sir John and Lord Ogleby have fallen in love with the intelligent and down-to-earth Fanny. This puts Mr. Sterling in arrears with his sister-in-law, the extremely wealthy Mrs. Heidelberg, who favors the elder Miss Sterling over the younger. As the plot moves to its comedic ending, Fanny and Lovewell try to hide their romance while Mr. Sterling tries and figures out a way to marry off his youngest daughter for a few extra British pounds...

Director Richard Clifford and his team of designers have created a highly stylized production. His actors have moved past broad camp posturing and into well-timed deliveries of lines and looks that leave one laughing heartily. Although a little long (running time is two hours and twenty minutes), this production is a gem that deserves a look and a round of applause.

Tony Cisek's set is a layered, storybook extravaganza that makes the small stage appear much larger. Using comic artwork, pastel colors and sliding panels, the scenes in color and artwork meld with the action occurring on stage. Costume Designer Kate Turner-Walker has developed some elaborate creations for the cast, individualizing styles of clothes and makeup for each character.

Everyone in the cast stands out. Among some highlights are Ian Merrill Peakes as Sir John Melvil, shrieking and scurrying about professing his love for Fanny, while seemingly never taking an eye off of himself. Jenna Sokolowski as Fanny and Aubrey Deeker as her husband Lovewell create a nice chemistry in their roles as the errant lovers.

Catherine Flye seems to relish her part as the caustic Mrs. Heidelberg. The welcome she gives to Ted van Griethuysen's Lord Ogleby is quite funny. As the avaricious father and daughter Michael Tolaydo and Susan Lynskey provide some splendid moments. Ms. Lynskey drops caustic lines like "Love and a cottage, eh Fanny? Give me coach and indifference..." that bring a laugh from the audience every time.

In the spotlight as the elderly Lord Ogleby, Ted van Griethuysen shines as the vain but good hearted nobleman. Whether he is applying his own makeup or turning to have a word with the audience, Mr. van Griethuysen never misses a comedic beat as he postures and primps about the stage.

Filling out the rest of the cast are Lindsay Allen, Ian C. Armstrong, Chris Davenport, Shannon Parks, Lawrence Redmond and Jack Vernon.

Definitely a feel-good play full of warmth and fun, The Clandestine Marriage is a real treat for everyone.

The Clandestine Marriage
by David Garrick and George Colman
Directed by Richard Clifford
with Lindsay Allen, Ian C. Armstrong, Chris Davenport, Aubrey Deeker, Catherine Flye, Susan Lynskey, Shannon Parks, Ian Merrill Peakes, Jenna Sokolowski, Lawrence Redmond, Michael Tolaydo, Ted van Griethuysen, Jack Vernon
Scenic Designer: Tony Cisek
Lighting Designer: Nancy Schertler
Costume Designer: Kate Turner-Walker
Sound Designer: Tony Angelini
Running Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes with 1 intermission
Folger Theatre, 201 East Capitol Street SE
Telephone: 202-544-7077
TUE - THU & SUN @ 7:30, FRI - SAT @ 8, SAT - SUN @ 2; $30 - $48
Opening 04/11/05, closing 05/22/05
Reviewed by Rich See based on 04/30/05 performance
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