Sunday, April 02, 2017

Take Your Pick Productions Launches With A Powerful Production of "The Little Dog Laughed" by Douglas Carter Beane - A MUST SEE - Through April 8

Like Elon Musk's SpaceX, Take Your Pick Productions is a new company that has successfully launched its first product into orbit without a hitch: the hilarious "The Little Dog Laughed." Birthed after Happy Medium Theatre shuttered its doors after a final and successful run of "Brendan," Take Your Pick Productions is helmed by Audrey Lynn Sylvia. This initial spectacular production of Douglas Carter Breane's brilliant comedy of unrequited love is a promising beginning for the new theater company.

For this initial show, Ms. Sylvia had the good sense to enlist as Director the very capable Cassandra Lovering, and chose a brilliantly written script by the gifted Mr. Beane. She wisely cast herself in a role for which she is ideally suited, and then surrounded herself with a trio of Boston's finest young actors to round out the cast. The result is a powerful and very pleasing production that you will not want to miss.

The premise of the play is that a closeted actor, Mitchell (Victor L. Shopov) is about to be catapulted to Hollywood's A list with the help of his aggressive and fast-talking agent, Diane (Audrey Lynn Sylvia). The problem is that Mitchell has a "recurring case of homosexuality," and Diane is certain that Hollywood and Mitchell's adoring fans are not ready to accept him as a gay man. Diane plots and canoodles to keep Mitchell from becoming too attached to his latest "friend," Alex (Matthew Fagerberg), who is a gay-for-pay hustler. Diane has winked at past dalliances, as long as they remained discreet, but Mitchell seems to be losing his head over young Alex, and threatens to out himself, much to Diane's chagrin. Alex's sometime girlfriend, Ellen (Aina Adler) complicates matters in a variety of ways. Each character has difficult choices to make - within themselves and with regard to their relationships with one another.

The casting is letter perfect. If Mr. Beane had been in the audience, I think he would have said something like: "This is exactly what I envisioned for each of these complex characters."

As Mitchell, Victor L. Shopov brings his usual array of theatrical weapons to the exposition of this character. He is self-assured and self-deprecating, selfish and vulnerable, seduced and seductive, faithful and faithless, and torn between a desire for fame on the one hand and true intimacy on the other hand. It does not appear that he can have both, and he is tortured by the dilemma.

As Alex, Matthew Fagerberg is both innocent and world wise - alternating between stealing from Mitchell's wallet after the actor falls asleep in a drunken stupor, and later refusing to be paid for his amorous services. Accustomed to keeping emotions in check when he services his clients, he does not know how to respond to the strange feelings that Mitchell evokes in him. It is a bravura and heart-rending performance. The sparkle in his blue eyes as he begins to fall for Mitchell has a Paul Newman quality.

As Diane, Audrey Lynn Sylvia is brash without being off-putting. She handles with finesse Mitchell, Alex, and Ellen, as well as a playwright that they are courting to turn his play into a film. Her verbal acuity and rapier wit reminded me of a bullfighter fending off bulls charging from all quarters. She has quick and agile moves to stay one step ahead of her foes.

As Ellen, Aina Adler brings a softness to this character that is touching. She loves Alex, has recently been dumped by a rich sugar daddy, but finds a way to get even with the old man. She is hurt by Alex's infatuation with Mitchell, but finds a way to survive that uses Diane's cleverness as a surprising springboard to a new life.

Ms. Lovering has these four actors humming like a well-oiled machine. Their sparks of affection, distrust, and machinations with one another are all credible and plausible. The flexible set by Marc Ewart is well conceived, as is the lighting design by Michael Clark Wonson and Sound Design by Deirdre Benson. Mikey DiLoreto is listed as Costume Coordinator, and he has each character dressed in a way that enhances their personality and unique role in this comedy.

It is always a challenge for a new theater company to build a loyal following. I encourage you to check out this stellar inaugural production. This play will make you laugh and think. There remain only four more opportunities to see this show - Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoon and evening. Get to the Black Box at the Boston Center for the Arts - and hurry . . . before the dish runs away with the spoon!

For tickets, follow this link:

Boston Theatre Scene



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