Critic’s Choice: A ‘Figaro’ that crackles and pops at A Noise Within
Eighteenth century subversion meets Larry David lunacy in “Figaro” at A Noise Within. Ingenuity permeates this buoyant adaptation of Beaumarchais’ classic account of one crazy day at the Almavivas’, circa 1784 or 2015, take your pick.
That’s because author Charles Morey’s translation, receiving its West Coast premiere, is totally faithful to Beaumarchais’ narrative convolutions while giving its satire of class distinctions, economic inequity and aristocratic privilege a thoroughly modern spin.
Director Michael Michetti’s innate sense of creative anachronism, which went slightly askew with “The Importance of Being Earnest” earlier in the season, here neatly dovetails with Morey’s witty, rococo text, which makes the political irreverence and farcical character business crackle.
Michetti has assembled a sharp design team, including Jeanine A. Ringer’s resourceful industrial baroque settings, Adam Frank’s ambient lights and Robert Oriol’s pop-wacky riffs on Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” tunes. Angela Balogh Calin’s era-skewed costumes and Gieselle Blair’s wigs are a show in themselves.
Similarly, his engaging cast embraces the mischief and mayhem without a weak link. Jeremy Guskin and Angela Sauer are well matched, he brash, she wily, as Figaro and Suzanne, giving their maneuvers to subvert his boss’ plans to seduce her on their wedding night an escalating comic velocity.
As rapacious Count Almaviva, Andrew Ross Wynn is both a legitimate threat and a tickling hoot, and Elyse Mirto embodies Countess Almaviva’s travails and counter-schemes with a delicious blend of daft and empathetic. Local treasures Alan Blumenfeld and Jeanne Sakata make mincemeat of Dr. Bartholo and Marceline, especially riotous at the tribunal to stake her claim on Figaro.
For the Record: An earlier version of this story incorrectly credited Adam Blumenfeld instead of Alan.
The wonderful Will Bradley plays sex-besotted page Cherubin -- a role traditionally done en travesti by women since Mozart’s immortal operatic take -- with a priceless randy-loopy attack, doubling as droll jurist Doublemain.
Joshua Wolf Coleman’s triple-role expertise and Natalie De Luna’s dizzy Fanchette complete an ensemble that knows just how far to push for laughs and gets them, resulting in a knee-slapping blast.
“Figaro,” A Noise Within, 352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena. Runs in repertory, see website for schedule. Ends May 10. Tickets from $40. (626) 356-3100, Ext. 1 or www.anoisewithin.org. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.
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