1812 Productions opened their 2011 season with the Craig Wright comedy MISTAKES WERE MADE. This is the story of Broadway producer Felix Artifex (4-time Barrymore Award winner Scott Greer), who is in the midst of trying to finalize a deal to produce a play by a new playwright about the French Revolution. Amidst a series of phone calls with an A-list actor and actress, the playwright, the manager of the theatre, agents, sheepherders, freedom fighters and mercenaries, we laugh and cry with Felix.
Mr. Greer is the dominant figure on stage and in fact the only figure on stage until the end of the show. His secretary Esther (Amanda Grove) is seen primarily behind a frosted glass door and heard over the office intercom. The other “character” in the production is an oversized and overfed koi fish, Felix’s pet Denise (a puppet skillfully manipulated by Georgia Schlessmann.) Esther notifies Felix of incoming calls and chides him for feeding Denise. The koi rises and submerges on demand, adding an additional comic element to the proceedings.
The character of Felix is a master manipulator, and Mr. Greer handles the material masterfully. He moves smoothly from happy to sad to angry with ease, keeping his callers (and the audience) guessing as to where he is headed. In what is essentially a 90+ minute monologue, he keeps the audience engaged and laughing, following him as his carefully worked out plans dissolve. Ms. Grove is terrific with her moments of breaking into the phone calls to tell her boss of the lineup of people waiting. She is the epitome of efficiency, never letting Felix’s snarls affect her. When she finally makes her appearance on stage, her scene with Felix is wonderful.
The set is a lot of fun to see and experience…you need to read each of the posters on the wall to appreciate the genius of the design. Kudos to director Matt Pfeiffer and scenic designer Bob Phillips on a litany of industry in-jokes. The lighting design by Shelly Hicklin enhanced the mood by changing subtly, the lights closing in on Mr. Greer in the more quiet intense moments and giving full light when he is on the move. Also, the changes in the lighting through the window was another very subtle yet effective addition, changing from a late-afternoon sky to an overcast and rainy look and back.
There is a lot to like about this production. The play is funny without being slapstick and Mr. Greer handles the material with surgical precision. Laughs are plentiful. Come help 1812 Productions celebrate their 15th season with this terrific production.
MISTAKES WERE MADE
Written by Craig Wright
Directed by Matt Pfeiffer
October 12-30, 2011
at Plays and Players Theatre
1714 Delancey St