THE BASICS: THE CONSTANT WIFE, a comedy by W. Somerset Maugham, presented by the Irish Classical Theatre Company, directed by David Oliver, starring Kate LoConti, Kelsey Mogensen, Eric Rawski, Josephine Hogan, Kristen Bentley, Kristen Tripp Kelley, Jon May, Elliot Fox, and Steve Brachmann closes this Sunday February 11, with final shows Thursday (followed by a “talk back”) and Friday (one free drink with a paid ticket) both at 7:30, Saturday at both 3:00 and 7:30 (post-show $1 off beer and wine Saturday nights), and Sunday at 2:00 at the Andrews Theatre, 625 Main St. (853-ICTC). www.irishclassicaltheatre.com Run time: 2 hours with one intermission, cozy full-service bar with coffee and pretzels.
THUMBNAIL SKETCH: This 1926 modern feminist play has long been a vehicle for smart, sassy, self-assured actresses from Ethel Barrymore, to Katharine Cornell, to Ingrid Bergman, and now to Buffalo’s current first lady of insouciant charm – Kate LoConti as Constance– appearing on stage in the title role with our other longstanding first lady of such talents – Josephine Hogan as her mother. In the play, we find that Constance’s doctor husband (Eric Rawski) is having an affair with her best friend (Kelsey Mogensen), but Constance has a very modernist view of marriage and understands that the only true freedom is economic freedom.
THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION: The cast is a delight. Once again, in this production as in several other recent Irish Classical plays, Kate LoConti can be girlish and flirty, cutting and witty, sober and clear eyed, and all at the same time. If you haven’t seen her on stage recently, well, you only have a few more chances in this run.
And, whatever role she is in, Josephine Hogan, a founding member of the Irish Classical Theatre Company, brings her impeccable timing and wit to the stage. (Audience tip: pay attention to Hogan’s lines/advice. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.) To this combo we can add some other sparkly actresses, including Kelsey Mogensen, up from NYC for this run (and last seen at ICTC in EQUUS and A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE) as Constance’s “best friend;” Kristin Bentley as Constance’s sister (always willing to stir things up), and Kristen Tripp Kelley, as the independent business owner who is eager to have Constance gain her own independence.
The men in this feminist play are, for the most part, secondary characters and they fulfill the roles as assigned.
The men in this feminist play are, for the most part, secondary characters and they fulfill the roles as assigned. Having said that, local actor Eric Rawski is developing more and more over at ICTC. He has yet to break out and absolutely command that stage the way he has at BUA in DANIEL’S HUSBAND or recently in CINDERELLA at the New Phoenix Theatre, but that day is coming. I believe that he hasn’t been at all well directed, made up, or costumed at Irish Classical in his most recent appearances, but that day is coming soon and when it does arrive, Rawski could be in great demand as a leading man. He has the physical size, a rich whisky-and-cigarettes baritone, and a very expressive face.
I’ve said it here before and it’s still true. While women’s costumes can apparently be fitted with a stitch here and there, you can’t fake it when it comes to men’s suits. They are either expensive and well-tailored or they aren’t, and on most Buffalo stages, they aren’t.
UP NEXT: A play about the daily existence of low life Dubliners, THE NIGHT ALIVE, by Conor McPherson starring Brian Mysliwy and Vincent O’Neill, March 2 through March 25, 2018.
*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)
ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.
TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.
THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.
FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.
FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!