nytheatre.com review by Lynn Marie Macy
June 6, 2011
Jean Anouilh wrote Cécile, or the School for Fathers in 1954. The February Company’s production at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity is translated and directed by Victoria Crutchfield. It is a treat to have an opportunity to see a rare production of this delightful Anouilh one act play written as a “modern” homage to the great comic playwright Molière.
Cécile is in love. Her beau, the flighty Chevalier, does not have the approval of her father Monsieur Orlas. Her cunning governess Araminthe, only a few years older than Cécile, believes that love conquers all and plots to outwit fathers, lovers, henchmen, and all and, of course, in the process falls in love herself.
Crutchfield as translator does excellent work conveying the complexities of language and situation in this French comedy. As director she lends further creativity in updating the production with even more contemporary references. A scene that includes a distanced father and daughter instant messaging one another is quite clever (but it does go on too long).
Crutchfield’s assembled cast does solid work. Standouts include Lily Warpinkski as the clever Araminthe, Ariel Seidman-Wright as petulant Cécile, Kyle Nunn as the amorous Chevalier, and Martyn Skotnicki and Luis Arzu as the goofy Henchmen. That being noted, it wouldn’t be right not to mention Ben Lesure and Ilan Caplan who do their best with the fathers but in the end are far too young for the roles in which they are cast.
Also problematic was the low-key energy of some of the performers and Crutchfield’s extremely slow-paced action, which often resulted in the performance grinding to a halt. Sadly, due to this many comedic opportunities for laughs were missed.
But for those fans of Anouilh here is an opportunity to catch a performance of this seldom performed script.
This production was presented in support of the New York Public Library.