Playwright David Ives likes to write plays, but lately he seems to enjoy “translapting” (a combination of translation and adaptation) other people’s plays just as much. His English language versions of Corneille’s “The Liar,” Moliere’s “The Misanthrope” (as “The School For Lies”) and my personal favorite, Sader-Masoch’s “Venus In Fur” are examples.
The latest to hit local boards is “The Metromaniacs,” originally written by Alexis Piron in 1738, now given a raucous and rollicking interpretation by Ives and Washington, D.C.’s Shakespeare Theatre Company, reprising the show they premiered there a year ago.
“The Metromaniacs” plays through March 6 at The Old Globe.
No, a metromaniac isn’t somebody who likes subways. It’s a poetry fanatic. A poetry craze was going around Paris in the 18th century; this play is a farce making fun of that mania.
Ives uses tried and true tropes here: slightly dim nobility, clever and crafty servants, mistaken identities, improbable (to say the least) situations and general nuttiness in plotting.
The plot? Well, let’s see how few words I can use. Damis (Christian Conn) is a penniless poet in love with a mysterious poetess who writes as Meriadec de Peaudoncqville (say it and you’ll get it). But she is really the middle-aged, wealthy Francalou (Adam LeFevre) using a pen name.
Francalou wants to prevent the marriage of ditzy Valley girl daughter Lucille (Amelia Pedlow, who frequently utters the modern dismissive “whatever”) to Dorante (Cary Donaldson), son of Francalou’s sworn enemy.
You can guess that dear old dad will fail, but not until the conclusion of several hilarious and confusing subplots (many involving the obligatory clever maid Lisette (played hilariously by Dina Thomas).
Damis’ (equally clever) valet Mondor (Michael Goldstrom) and his uncle Baliveau (Peter Kybart) also figure in. Oh, and almost everybody is incognito.
If your mind is spinning, never mind: the plot doesn’t matter. What does is the excellence of this production, first class from James Noone’s expansive set (Francalou’s ballroom, decorated like a forest for the play Francalou intends to mount there) to Murell Horton’s handsome period costumes to the fine lighting and sound by Mark McCullough and Matt Tierney, respectively, and Adam Wernick’s original music.
The acting is top-notch; these are the originators of the roles (except for newcomer Donaldson, wonderfully portraying Dorante, and local actors Connor Sullivan and Benjamin Cole, playing servants) and all are masters of the verbal mayhem.
Kudos to director Michael Kahn, who gets his cast and crew to keep all these crazy balls in the air with seeming ease.
Get your tickets now.
“Metromaniacs” runs through March 6, 2016 on The Old Globe’s Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage, 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park.
Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 pm; Thursday and Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 2 and 7 pm
Tickets: (619) 234-5623 or theoldglobe.org