Directed by Zachary Davis
At Piccolo Theatre
Rough Crossing has smooth sailing in Piccolo Theatre’s production.
Laughs abound in Tom Stoppard’s brilliant romantic satire. Rough Crossing starts fast and never lets up. The 1985 comedy is a spoof of Noel Coward and those 1920’s musical comedies. It is based on Frenc Molnar’s Play at the Castle that allows Stoppard to freely adapt it to his needs. There is music, wordplay and humorous situations in this nicely performed show.
Rough Crossing focuses on two European playwrights who have nothing to do before their ship docks in New York except create and rehearse a new ending for their latest musical before the composer finds out the leading actress is cheating on him. What could be simpler! Their show begs for a new ending but clueless playwrights have no idea what to do. Stoppard twists the story with a dense plot, which mocks dense plots. Rapid-fire dialogue with sight gags and double entrendres based on miscommunication produces a hysterical show.
Glenn Proud as Gal and Mark Sharp as Turai nicely play off one another producing laughs and setting up clever bits for the others, especially for Deborah Craft as the savant steward, Dvornichek. This role is usually played by a man—but Deborah Craft is a hoot as the shaky-legged, cognac drinking servant.
The Russian diva, Natasha (Denita Linnertz) and her leading man Igor (David W.M. Kelch) nicely ham it up as the fickle actors and sometimes lovers.
Funny physical comedy such as the waiter always swaying as if the ship was moving and the entire cast moving and holding on, as the ship flounders (and the servant was now steady) was hilarious Ryan Hutton’s facial twitch and stammering was shtick repeated but always funny—is his affliction permanent? Can he still compose?
Zany high speed verbal encounters were delivered effectively. If high comedy and satire perk you interest, this cast of non-Equity cast for the most part delivers. The mixture of over-the-top comedy with cute musical interludes gave the show a fine 1920’s feel. This is sophisticated comedy with some clever in-your-face elements thrown in. Deborah Craft and Mark Sharp anchor the laughs.
At Poccolo Theatre in the Main Street Metra train station, 600 Main Street, Evanston, IL, call 847-424-0089, tickets $25, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm. Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission.