Theatre 40, in its fiftieth season, is bringing audiences a delightful farce in “Perfect Timing.” This British drawing room comedy, superbly directed by Bruce Gray has an ensemble cast of eight wonderful actors. They all did “so veddy, veddy well” in maintaining their British accents throughout the play. There is one actress whose accent was flawless, and that is because she is from England. Helen Anker as the lead, Corneila, is from the U. K. and is making her Theatre 40 debut. Playwright, Kristi Kane’s play first ran 34 years ago at the West End Playhouse in Van Nuys. Kane has captured has the British comedic sensibility in which even when there is chaos, the Brits are able to remain relatively calm, civilized, and still be funny. This play made for a “veddy” enjoyable evening.
Jeff G. Rack’s set was so absolutely lovely as Corneila’s flat with its Robin’s egg blue walls, modern glass table, off white setee and chaise lounge, chairs, crystal chandelier, 5 entrances and exits, hallway, and French doors to a lovely garden. The set in Knightsbridge England, before cell phones, was impeccable! I loved the art work in the walls and wall sconces. It was a set befitting of art critic, Cornelia Thorndike. And, of course, the many entrances and exits played an integral part in allowing for the many near misses the characters had as they almost invaded each other’s space. But, that was the fun in it. Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski’s sound design added to the whimsical feel with proper musical interludes between scenes. Michele Young’s beautiful costumes enhanced the play.
As the play opens, we see Alex, Cornelia’s live-in lover of many months as he is saying good-bye. He wants to marry Cornelia but she is fickle and hesitates. Theirs is proper relationship. Martin Thompson deftly performs his Alex with a debonair touch. He is seemingly unflappable. That is until Cornelia undoes him with a bit of news. The rather subdued and plain Vivianna, so well-acted by Christine Joelle as Cornelia’s secretary and confidant has to do triple duty as secretary, maid, and psychologist to Cornelia. As quickly as Alex leaves, Avant-garde artist, Gerrard Castle enters unexpectedly by way of the garden and through the French doors. He is purportedly “gorgeous.” “All men should look as good as him.” Gerrard seems to be smitten with art critic Cornelia, despite the bad reviews she has given of his art work. In fact, both women are smitten.
Cornelia’s head is turned as Gerrard utters, “You will haunt my dreams until you sleep at my side.” Hmmmm, and Alex has a key to Cornelia’s apartment. How will this work out? Good that there are so many entrances and exits. One door opens and another closes with one man going out as the other rushes in.
There are smashing lines as Gerrard says, “I can’t sleep.” And Vivianna dryly responds, “Have you tried your own bed?” Touche! We see through Gerrard as he also flirts with Vivianna. But, Cornelia decides she will dally with the young artist using “discretion and manipulation.” Theirs is not a proper relationship.
As Act 1 ends, Cornelia tells Alex of her dalliance with Gerrard, “I’m seeing another man.” That news sends banker Alex off to America to heal his wounds. But, within minutes, Gerrard tells Cornelia he is off to Paris with his new paramour and benefactor, Lulu Larouche. Dang, had he told Cornelia five minutes sooner, she woulf not have dropped the bomb on Alex. Aly Fainbarg plays Lulu to the hilt complete with an overdone French accent and teetering platform heels and form fitting dresses. Too late Cornelia discovers her “frivolous error.” Thus we have the makings of a wild romantic farce.
Six months pass and all is not rosy with Gerrard and Lulu. Alex who was out of the picture is back from America, and he too, has found solace in a relationship with a young American girl, Laura whom he is bound to marry. Young Laura (Sarah Kaidanow) is not what she seemed and she doesn’t love Alex. That’s okay because Alex does not love her. She is a simple gal fresh off a farm who loves ducks.
Cornelia arranges a “revenge” dinner with Gerrard, Lulu, Alex, and whomever comes. “I’ll set another trap, er plate.” There is more farce as love is declared, taken back. Vivianna’s old beau, Joseph Bingham (Thomas Webb) pops into the scene as the hickish farm boy Vivianna left, to complicate matters. Lulu’s ex-husband, Joseph Foxworth also crashes in as a new set-up for Cornelia. The dinner scene with Cornelia, Alex, Lulu, and Gerrard was side splitting ripe with delicious double-entendres and double talk. Very clever writing indeed. There is one line that sums up this delightful farce, “I’ll introduce you to the rest of the inmates.” We are left to see it all and laugh at their scheming and foibles. It is indeed, “Perfect Timing.” Hopefully, all will get paired off to the right inmates.
“Perfect Timing” runs through December 20th at Theatre 40 located at 241 Moreno Dr. Beverly Hills at the Reuben Cordova Theater. There is ample free parking in the structure. For tickets and show times, call 310-364-0535 or go on line to www.theatre40.org Tickets are $30.00