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Ring Round the Moon at the Masquers

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By Theresa de Valence - Posted on 20 June 2007

Need a laugh or two? There are lots of reasons to go to the theatre—it gets you out of the house, gets you talking to other humans about something non-work-related—but the biggest benefit comes when the play is a hoot, the actors are having a blast, and the whole experience is, well, uplifting and downright silly.

Ring Around the Moon, directed by John Hull, is Christopher Fry’s adaptation of a French play by Jean Anouilh which takes place in a garden in the grounds of a château in France circa 1912. The set is deceptively simple—the actors do fabulous things with a fake rock and a ladder. Kris Bell choreographs a tango. For this dance alone, see the play!

Hugo and Frederic (played by Cin Seperi) are twin brothers with very different personalities. At first, I felt the brothers should look more dissimilar on stage (maybe a fast jacket-change or a bandana) and then, shortly, I knew that the directors and costumers were right. Without any props whatsoever, I had no trouble at all recognizing each brother. A nice piece of sleight of hand and Cin makes it look effortless. (Photo by Jerry Telfer)

I know I always tell you about falling in love with the leading man, but this time it’s different, I swear. Cin Seperi is deadly. Oh, stomp on my heart. He has to be seen to be believed.

Diana (played by Jillian O’Malior) is engaged to one brother and in love with someone else. She is a gorgeous, young lady—also exceedingly rich and bored. She drips droll contempt for lesser beings but reveals a number of hidden secrets, one of which is that she hides a surprisingly catty temper. And she manipulates her father (the source of her wealth) into exacting all kinds of revenge. A refreshingly high-spirited young lady!

Isabelle (played by Karina Campbell) is a beautiful young lady dancer with plenty of attitude (Meow, pass the cream!). She has been brought to the château as part of a devious ploy by Hugo to save his brother, Frederic, from a fate worse than death. Isabelle, being poor, is naturally virtuous, although her pride gets in danger of mucking things up. Isabelle is lovely and tragic and terribly earnest.

Joshua (played by Norman Macleod) is a funny old manservant, quite unflappable, despite severe provocation. He is priceless and there is no question that this deadpan rôle is one which Norman plays exceedingly well.

Lady India (played by Anne Collins) is tied for my vote for Actress Most Enjoying Herself. Lady India is a young woman with a passion for Passion. As such, she’s a mistress to one man and a plaything for another, though possibly still available for someone who’s willing to give her a thrill. A silly woman, it’s obvious Anne is having great fun playing her.

Patrice Bombelles (played by Ted V. Bigornia) is the secretary to the rich Messerschmann and wins my vote for Actor Most Enjoying Himself. He is both obsequious and daring—he’s having a love affair with the wrong person—and his onstage antics add plenty of mayhem to the mix.

Madame Desmermortes (played by Loralee Windsor) is a meddlesome old woman. Having seen Loralee in two recent performances as a not-quite-so-innocent interfering grande dame, I must say she does this rôle with great panache. She is so blessedly autocratic and unconcerned with anyone’s reaction to her the words which she speaks.

Capulet (played by Sandra Bond) is the long-suffering and well-abused companion of the grande dame, but (one is certain) has romance novels piled up by her bed. With plenty of drama, she flutters and gushes. She appears to believe all kinds of silly nonsense, but (one is certain) we know that hers is but a single, solitary bed and so it shall remain.

Romainville is played by C. Conrad Cady and Robert Taylor. I was looking forward to seeing Conrad because he is a superb actor, but he wasn’t playing. I did get to see the handsome Robert Taylor as a perfectly coiffed, well dressed, smooth talking, well oiled patron of the arts.

Messerschmann (played by David L. Lee) is a rich old man with encumbrances. How he deals with those encumbrances is entertaining indeed, and you’ll have to see the play to find out. I was surprised by David’s performance—I’d come to see a lighthearted play and was watching the comedy unfold—when, into the middle of it, David transformed the environs into something shockingly tragic—we drowned in anguish—and a moment later, the picture vanished and we laughed, perhaps a little louder because the terrible truth was immediately buried. Magnificent!

Isabelle’s mother (played by Dory Ehrlich) is my other vote for Actress Most Enjoying Herself. She has outrageous costumes and memorable headgear which accentuate her antics. Isabelle and her mother get themselves invited to the ball at the château where the mother is supposed to lay low, but naturally, can’t resist a little (sensible) meddling.

Footmen flit across the stage, played by Simon Patton, Heinz Lankford and John Hull.

As expected in a romantic comedy, the women vie for the hearts of the men while the men woo the women, and there is the usual difficulty that everyone is in love with the wrong person. What comes through in this performance is how much fun they are having—all of them—and we, the audience, get to join in.