‘Leonce and Lena’ a Bubbly but Biting Social Fable
Playwright Georg Buchner, who died at age 23, was a world-class rabble-rouser. Ostensibly a frothy fable, “Leonce and Lena,” Buchner’s only comedy, is actually a proletarian diatribe about wealth and corruption, as biting as his darkly dystopian masterwork “Woyzeck.”
Director Bart DeLorenzo and company punch up Buchner’s political bitterness in their inventive new adaptation at the Evidence Room, yet wisely keep the essential silliness of the play intact.
Heir apparent of the Kingdom of Popo, Prince Leonce (Matthew Sheehan) is scheduled to wed Princess Lena (Alicia Hoge) of the Kingdom of Peepee. While fleeing from their arranged marriage, the altar-shy royals meet by chance on the road and, unaware of each other’s true identities, fall in love.
In a strong cast, Sheehan shines as the wastrel prince impelled by vague romantic longings. Although nicely naturalistic, Hoge occasionally slurs her dialogue. JonDavid Weigand, who plays Leonce’s traveling companion Valerio, has a bracing dynamism that only occasionally lapses into self-consciousness. Marsha Ginsberg’s set is hilariously garish, and Peter Stenshoel’s bold, bizarre sound design mingles the soothing rhythms of nature with the blaring car alarms of the cityscape.
Part of the “Live Human Zest” series, the play alternates with Harry Kondoleon’s “The Houseguests.”
* “Leonce and Lena,” Evidence Room, 3542 Hayden Ave., Culver City. Call for schedule. (310) 841-2799. $15. Running time: 2 hours.