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The Play’s the Thing

by Ferenc Molnar
adapted by P.G. Wodehouse
directed by László Marton

Mar 08, 1996 — May 19, 1996

“’The Play’s the Thing’s’ is nothing if it doesn’t have that deluxe piazz, and, thank goodness, Hungarian director Laszlo Marton’s staging has plenty of it. It needs a very cunning director, too, and Marton in a velvety silck production, is full of tricks, including a pip for the play’s famous openings lines, that let the playfulness of the play.”

-Chicago Tribune, Richard Christiansen, Tribune Chief Critic

“To stage Molnar’s Hungarian confection, ‘The Play’s the Thing,’ the Court called on internationally admired director Laszlo Marton. And from the opening seconds of the play, when three cigarette lighters simultaneously flick on in the pitch dark, there is a sense that a master is in charge. Using P.G. Wodehouse’s classic English adaptation, and the gifts of a stellar cast, Marton illuminates relationships and conjures laugh with ease. Sparkling production…”

-Chicago Sun-Times, Hedy Weiss

“László Marton, the artistic director of Budapest’s Vígszínház Theater, has a regular following of 200,000, as many as even the most successful U.S. regional theaters. And if his delightful staging of ‘The Play’s the Thing,’ written by his countryman Ferenc Molnar in 1924, is typical of his work, he deserves every member of his loyal audience.
Even as sharpened by Wodehouse, this Hungarian trifle could not sustain an evening in the theater without the unrelenting craftsmanship of director Marton.”

-The Wall Street Journal, Joel Henning

“Court Theater is running ‘The Barber of Seville’ and ‘The Play’s the Thing’ (Wodehouse adaptation) in rotating repertory through May 19, and if Barber is as splendidly witty as Thing then Court has a double hit. Hungarian director Laszlo Marton staged the Molnar comedy with some of Chicago’s canniest actors. To say the production is stylish is an understatement. Graceful of movement, the company displays the lines of Jordan Ross’ elegant period costumes without ever modeling them, and freezes in tableaux without ever striking poses on Todd Rosenthal’s airy, vaguely classical set. The frothy material is delivered with the perfectly mastered dry earnestness required of true comedy of manners, paced by the dourlooking but sly John Reeger as Turai, and a brilliantly developed performance by William Brown as Almady, the play’s unwitting buffon. Hollis Resnik is a wide-eyed beauty as Ilona Szabo, the compromised heroine, and Tony Dobrowolski as Dwornitschek warmly and teasingly outsearches any British butler you’ve ever seen. Bottom line: Old chestnuts still can delight if properly roasted and perfectly seasoned.”

-Back Stage, Johnatan Abarbanel

In Rotating Repertory with The Barber of Seville

Artistic Team


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