By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Emily Scott Banks is Lotty Wilton, frustrated wife of a stuffy lawyer. She longs to break free of London's cold rain and her husband's chilly attitude. Marcia Carroll plays the prim Rose Arnott as a late bloomer who punishes herself for personal failures by shutting off all emotions except anger. Dana Schultes' glossy Lady Caroline glides around in a brandy-soaked haze, aching for lost love. And McCracken's Mrs. Graves, a towering old rhino with a penchant for walnuts, becomes almost girlishly giddy under the golden Mediterranean sun.
Director James Paul Lemons' crisply paced production delivers a charming two and a half hours of pitch-perfect storytelling and tight ensemble acting (there are also three men in the cast and they're good, too). The lead foursome interact seamlessly as believable traveling companions, each woman undergoing a profound metamorphosis that makes Eliza Doolittle's look like a cakewalk.
To counter all the girlish bonding of Enchanted April, check out the rough and tumble British blokes of Dealer's Choice, the tense, funny, powerful Patrick Marber play (he wrote Closer after this one) now winding up its run by Theatre Quorum at the Bath House. In the basement of an Italian restaurant, its owner, Stephen (Mark Oristano), hosts his employees in a weekly all-night poker game. If the workers lose, they work out their debts in unpaid overtime. Nice system--for Stephen, a bully who always wins.
For the head barman and perpetual loser Mugsy (Jeff Swearingen, playing a Cockney git wif nary a slip uvva syllable), winning big could mean a down payment on his own eatery (the spot he has in mind is a former public toilet, bless him). Mugsy plays every hand with hope in his heart but doesn't know when to stop losing. And when Stephen's gambling-addicted son (Bill Sebastian) brings a mysterious toff named Ash (Carl Savering) into the game, all bets are off as to who goes home with the pot.
Directed by Matthew Lyle, Dealer's Choice deals some delicious surprises. This is another heavy-hitting ensemble of actors, and it's this little company's best effort, hands (and English accents) down.