Adapted by Jon Jory
From the novel by Henry Fielding
Directed by William Brown
At Northlight Theatre, Skokie
Fun romp through 18th Century England with an amiable young rascal is a delight
Henry Fielding’s famous 18th Century (1749) novel, Tom Jones, was made into a hit film in 1963 staring a young Albert Finney and now Jon Jory has a stage adaptation for an impressive production at Northlight Theatre in Skokie.
Tom Jones is comedy of manners sexy celebration of the truths and realities of life…The story follows the journey of a bastard child of mysterious origin who is adopted into the family of Squire Allworthy (Marcus Truschinski). Limited by the inability to inherit the family fortune and desperately in love with Sophia Western (Nora Fiffer), the young gentlewoman of a neighboring estate, Tom (Sam Ashdown) finds himself in a comedic whirlwind of circumstantial dilemmas and break-neck love affairs.
We see Tom a super-charged libido with a fondness for the fairer sex. This leads him into a series of troublesome adventures that includes being banished by his benefactor that sets off a whirlwind of misadventures, sword fights and, of course, romps with several horny ladies.
This manic production effectively uses the multilevel set (by Jeffrey D. Kmiec) as the action winds up and down the several staircases toward the large bedroom centered. The sprawling novel comes to life with gusto, humor and, at ties, over-the-top performances and nicely staged sword fighting (fight director: Tyler Rich). I did have trouble with the tone shifts from cute frolics to , at times, silly, campy scenes. It is a tricky affair to stage Fielding’s novel. does one use the sexy scenes with raunchy nudity or does one stage it for a wide audience? Director Brown chose to play the sex scenes toned-down. That served the play nicely but surly disappointed some.
I think the audience for this show includes those who like 18th Century comedies; woman who like light romances with a little spice. While I do appreciate the staging and most of the performances, I did find the production a tad long and somewhat convoluted.
Yet, there is an audience for Tom Jones and the work from Sam Ashdown as the horny Tom Jones as well as nice turns from John Lister and Molly Glynn anchored the show. Rachel Anne Healy and Carolyn Cristofani’s period-perfect 18th Century costumes added color to the show. This is a light heart period comedy with a most charming and empathetic lead character that we can’t help but cheer for. And we have a good time along the way.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: January 24, 2014
For more info checkout the Tom Jones page at theatreinchicago.com
At Northlight Theatre, 9501 N. Skokie Blvd, Skokie, IL, call 847-673-6300,www.northlight.org, tickets $25 -$75, Tuesdaya thru Thursdays at 7:30, some Wednesday matinees at 1 pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2:30 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2:30 7 7 pm, running time is 2 hours and 25 minutes with intermission, through February 23, 2014