Theater in Review

Neil Ditt and Yvette Robinson in I Do! I Do!

Neil Ditt and Yvette Robinson in I Do! I Do! | Photo: Reinhard Reidinger

I Do, I Do

In an era where half of all marriages end in divorce, few people give credence to the “happily ever after.” Which can make it a risky choice to stage the 1960s musical I Do, I Do on a contemporary Vienna stage. And at the English Theater, no less. 

(“It’s not really the ‘niveau’ of the plays they used to put on,” a distinguished Austrian gentleman confided in the lobby, gesturing at the photos of Jeanne Moreau and Larry Hagman lining the walls.”)

Perhaps not, but as a classic tale of scenes from a marriage, the fine performances of Neil Ditt as Michael and Yvette Robinson as Agnes were thoroughly engaging in the first preview performance, in spite of a occasional skewed wig or fumbled prop. Based on the stage classic The Four Poster, by Dutch playwright Jan de Hartog, which stole the heart of Broadway when it was first performed in English in the family-obsessed America of 1952, I Do, I Do – with music by Harvey Schmidt, and book and lyrics by Tom Jones – follows a couple through 65 years of marriage through romance and parenthood, disillusionment and mid-life crisis to the mellow understanding of later years.

In spite of a script riddled with tiresome stereotypes of the clueless man and the clothes-obsessed woman, the balance of understanding keeps shifting and the relationship feels real in this polished production directed by Julian Woolford  Most joyous, these two can really sing and really dance, with just enough of Fred and Ginger in this lively choreography by Steven Harris, to make you wish you could be up on stage with them. A satisfying change from Reich und Schön!

 

Look Back in Anger

The current production at the International Theater couldn’t be more different: John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger was considered “the most vivid British play of the decade” by the New York Times when it opened in New York in 1957.

Osborne was exploding with rage, in revolt against what he saw as the helpless incompetence of its leaders and the shriveled expectations it offered its youth.  In a squalid attic somewhere in the Midlands, this is the story of three young people railing against the world.

Here, the disillusioned Jimmy Porter is played by the very able Ben Maddox, in a quartet with Rachel Carliss,  Thomas Crawley and Linsey Thurgar. Directed by Jack Babb.


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