“The Cottage” – Actors Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ June 30, 2014


Actors Theatre, Helen K. Mason Performing Arts Center
Phoenix, AZ

English drawing room comedy is some of the hardest theater to bring off for American actors because the plays are silly and require stilted acting as they explore the uptight society.  Actors Theatre falls flat with a heavy thud executing the miserably dull and boring “The Cottage.”  Every plot turn and twist is well expected as Sandy Rustin Fleischer’s play gives dramatic hints at everything about to occur.  Nothing startles, amuses, or delights as the play plods on for an eternity.

The talented acting ensemble that just last week so dashingly presented “The Book Club Play,” never gets to create one believable character here.  Every artificial and contrived person registers as ridiculously unreal.  The silly plot goes nowhere and, at the intermission which is only one hour into the play, it seems like you’ve been sitting for an eternity.  The shorter second act presents nothing new.

What happens in this dull witted joke?  There is a trio of married couples who either cheat on each other or have aspirations to cheat.  When all is revealed and the play grinds to its conclusion, the boredom finally ends.  If there was some genuine comedy or some funny banter, maybe this play would have a bit of appeal.  As “The Cottage” is, you’ll be lulled and dulled senselessly.

If you are looking for something amusing to spark your summer, choose Actors Theatre’s other play, “The Book Club Play,” that performs in repertory with “The Cottage.”  The same six-person ensemble presents both plays and the excellent troupe tries hard to make “The Cottage” funny but they have nothing to work with.  Director Matthew Wiener keeps things moving briskly in front of Jeff Thomson’s pleasant looking English countryside cottage setting and with Lois K. Myers’ period costumes that help take audiences back to June 1923.

Maren Maclean plays uppity Sylvia with nose-in-the-air snootiness.  This character is obsessed with every word and each idea she has.  Her stuffy husband Beau is played with amusing arrogance by Joseph Kremer.  Friend Clarke is portrayed with haughty conceit by Tyler Eglen and his cold wife is essayed icily by Angelica Howland.  Dierdre and Richard are played with egalitarian egotism by Alexis Green and Ian Christiansen.

Of the two summer Actors Theatre offerings, they are both executed superbly but “The Book Club Play” is more interesting and more enjoyable than “The Cottage.”  “The Cottage” continues in repertory with “The Book Club Play” through August 17.  For tickets, call the Actors Theatre box office at 602-888-0368 or order tickets online at www.actorstheatrephx.org.

Grade: D

One Response to ““The Cottage” – Actors Theatre”

  1. NAOMA said:

    Aug 10, 14 at 13:30

    So eager to write a positive review that I made many typos which I beg you to excuse.