RELATIVELY SPEAKING reminds me why I usually avoid British farce; its just not my cup of tea. This particular play has several problems in its composition and especially in its pacing. But the cast and crew of Diogenes Theatre Company is almost miraculous in their attempt to bring it to life.
Actually, they do more than attempt. They go with gusto as they work within the confines of this comedy of errors. We meet two lovebirds, Greg and Ginny, (Patrick Phillips and Bailie Breaux), and things are a little tense. It seems she may be seeing someone else – but he’s not super swift on the uptake. He suspects but is willing to overlook out of his love (or lust) for her. We then meet an older couple, Phillip and Sheila (Robert Pavlovich and Abby Rowold), who are having brunch on a lovely day.
Greg shows up thinking he’s meeting Ginny’s parents for the first time. And things just go down hill from here. Once the veteran actors take the stage, things being to slowly pop. That’s not a knock on Phillips or Breaux; the first thirty or so minutes of the script are painfully slow.
Director Brian Isaac Phillips certainly is no stranger to these types of comedies; he is the Artistic Director at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company after all and the Bard has a couple of screwballs in his canon. He moves his actors around the simple black box set easily and guides them as they carefully build some of the more anxiety-producing moments in the story. I just wish there were more of them.
Pavlovich is an actor we need to see more of. So is Rowold. They both have excellent comic timing and bring experience and professionalism to the stage. Breaux, a CCM graduate, adds some nice touches to her character and Phillips, one of Cincinnati’s Rising Stars (he even got an award for that once) shows why he continues to be in demand. (He’ll star alongside Geoffrey Barnes, Billy Chace, and Sara Clark in Diogenes next production.)
I can find no fault with the production, the actors, or the tech. They do everything they can with a mediocre script – and more.
RELATIVELY SPEAKING runs at the Aronoff Center’s 5/3 Theatre through November 22nd. Click here for tickets and more information.