Presented by: Taproot Theatre Company
Enchanted April was not only an Academy Award nominated film in 1992, but also a 2003 Tony nominated stage play adapted by Matthew Barber from the original 1922 novel by Elizabeth von Armin. Currently playing at Taproot Theatre, director Karen Lund has done a lovely job with the overall feel of the piece as well as managing a lot more comedy than those familiar with the film might expect.
Charity Parenzini heads the cast as Lotty, a British housewife who is bored and longs for Italian sunshine. She is also something of a psychic and foretells that she and three other women would go on vacation to Italy. Of course, all that comes about. She rents a castle with Rose (Nikki Visel) and they find Lady Caroline (Anne Kennedy) and Mrs. Graves (Kim Morris) by advertising the shared vacation.
Lotty is the impulsive free-spirit; Rose is the non-adventuresome type who is very sad and has to be coaxed quite a lot by Lotty; Lady Caroline is the society girl who seems to need a vacation from men; and Mrs. Graves wants to be in a quiet space to “remember” which is her fondest activity and the only one she thinks is left to her.
Lotty’s husband, Mellersh (Ryan Childers), is an overbearing lawyer who doesn’t pay attention to her. Rose’s husband, Frederick (Jeff Berryman), wants to pay attention to her, but Rose can’t respond to him, saying it had only been two years (after what we don’t know, yet). They are not told about the jaunt to Italy, though you just have to take it on faith that they don’t panic about the absence of their wives.
The women get to the castle and meet the owner of the castle, Antony Wilding (Aaron Finley), and his family caretaker, Costanza (Llysa Holland). Costanza speaks Italian but makes herself very clear to the English. Holland makes sure you know exactly what Costanza thinks about each character. Wilding is an enigma, an Englishman who owns a family Italian villa.
Eventually, the husbands show up and find their wives altered by the special magic of the place, and they, too, are affected. Lady Caroline has softened, Mrs. Graves is actually finding life fun, and life will continue with a new vigor and happiness. This magic is all tied to a myth about a walking stick. It was buried in the ground by the grandsire, who wanted to mark a spot for an acacia tree. After some time, the stick begins to sprout and they find it has turned into an acacia tree.
The cast is uniformly good at what they do, led by Parenzini and Visel, with great comedic timing. Visel has a harder job, since she is mourning the loss of a child after two years, and still has not reconciled her feelings.
The set by Mark Lund is a bit strangely dressed for the part of the show set in England, but the lushness of the Italian villa in the second act comes through nicely. Costumes are period by Sarah Burch Gordon. The swimsuits are particularly fun.
The overall effect does reflect the magic of the movie, which reflects the magic of the book by Elizabeth von Arnim. Their Enchanted April promises to give way to an Enchanted May. And that is a very nice thought.
For more information, go to taproottheatre.org or call 206-781-9707. Through October 24th 2009.
PICTURED ABOVE: Charity Parenzini, Aaron Finley and Nikki Visel
PHOTO BY: Erik Stuhaug
Written by: Miryam Gordon
Added: September 29th 2009