The Cholmondeley Chronicles
nytheatre.com review by Shelley Molad
July 15, 2007
28 and never been kissed, Cholmondeley is a lonely, overweight, hopeless romantic who reads Cosmo articles for advice on how to seek out true love. Intent on his quest and Puritan beliefs, Cholmondeley is a complete foil to his sidekick Frankie who can't seem to get his mind off women. When Frankie receives a letter from a secret society inviting him to Paris, he dumps his psychotic pyromaniac girlfriend Sandi for the chance to score a French girl. Meanwhile, Sandi plots her vengeance and follows the duo to Paris.
Blessed with a bold cast who are not afraid to take risks and one crazy plot line, Michael Rudez's action-packed The Cholmondeley Chronicles is sure to make you think twice about the conventions of theatre. This brave cast proves that not all actors need stunt doubles. Whether it is a result of stage combat expertise or superb directing by Michael Roderick, some of these wild moves are sure to impress.
Playing Cholmondeley, Kenn Mann is refreshing and charismatic as the atypical leading man. We empathize with him from the start, and we root for him throughout his journey. An unusual female villain, Daphnie Yang is neurotic and tantalizing as Frankie's crazy ex-girlfriend Sandi. Frankie's new French fling, Marie, played by the voluptuous Elizabeth Owens, is eye candy on stage with her dove-colored dress, red pumps, and wavy, dark hair. Denise Maroney's costume selection is well-suited; it is no wonder Cholmondeley falls in love with Marie at first sight.
At first The Cholmondeley Chronicles brings to mind one of Hollywood's popular teen movies. With Frankie's crass jokes and unflinching occupation with women, it may be no accident that actor Michael Mraz bears a striking resemblance to actor Sean William Scott, who played the notorious Steve Stiffler in American Pie. Imbued with loud statements, the show continues to mock pop culture and other big budget Hollywood films such as Star Wars and Titanic.
With its pop culture references and offbeat humor, The Cholmondeley Chronicles at times feels like it relies more on the humor of its social commentary than on the actual storyline. The concocted plot is tricky to follow at times. Every so often Cholmondeley's father Hector appears on the scene with advice. Though it isn't clear from the start that he is a figment of Cholmondeley's imagination, perhaps his random appearance with a suitcase and outdated top hat are meant to give it away.
The Cholmondeley Chronicles is a roller coaster that gets loopier along the way. As an audience, you must suspend your belief and trust that the story is going somewhere despite its wacky moments. Once you've made it through the ride, Cholmondeley's final monologue seems to genuinely affirm and justify his reasons (and ours) for experiencing the mayhem of his journey.