Home > Arts and Entertainment > THEATRE REVIEW: ‘MEASURE FOR PLEASURE’ RIGHT ON TIME AT THE GARAGE THEATRE

THEATRE REVIEW: ‘MEASURE FOR PLEASURE’ RIGHT ON TIME AT THE GARAGE THEATRE

DAVID GRIMM'S 'MEASURE FOR PLEASURE' IS NOW PLAYING AT GARAGE THEATRE

BY GREGGORY MOORE

They say timing is everything. It isn’t, of course—but in some plays it’s pretty damn near to it. David Grimm’s Measure for Pleasure is one of those plays. Are the words on the page funny? Clever? At times, yes. But if even the most literary scripts can be ruined in performance (as I once saw CSU Fullerton do to Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia), one like Grimm’s—almost all jokes and timing—owes half its soul to the performers. Fortunately, the Garage Theatre got rhythm.

The argument: Because of Capt. Dick Dashwood’s (Matthew Anderson) well-earned reputation as a rake, he does not believe he can win the hand of Hermione Goode (Jessica Variz), the virginal woman who has won his heart, and so he has started rumors of his own death as a scheme to win her anew as another man. Coincidentally, Dashwood’s compadre in debauchery, the married and aging Sir Peter Lustforth (Scott Lennard), has his own Goode designs.

But what seems like the subplot turns into the heart of this carnal body. To wit, the Lustforths’ footman, Will Blunt (Paul Knox), has fallen for harlot Molly Tawdry (Christopher Carson McClellen) and secures “her” employment in the Lustforth estate, only to watch “her” fall for Dashwood, who is hiding out at the Lustforths’ as music teacher Don Fidelio. (Remember what I said about plot credibility?)

Don’t let the above plot-related parentheticals dissuade you. The Mack-truck-sized holes that you can find in Shakespeare’s plays don’t always hurt their structural integrity, because often he hasn’t built them on a foundation of plausibility; Grimm pretty much goes out of his way to let you know he isn’t doing so here.

It’s much more about badinage, which is why the timing is the centerpiece. Poor meter or measure equals damn little pleasure. Luckily, the equation at the Garage is satisfying.

The entire cast is good, but the standouts are Knox and McClellen, who inhabit the only nuanced roles. Everyone else is, by design, almost non-stop over the top, even in moments requiring exactitude in the timing (Variz excels here). Knox and McClellen, though, are frequently called upon to strike subtle chords of emotional resonance—and their success at so doing in front of their castmates’ successful spinning of a background of buffoonery does (as opposed to doesn’t) mean dick. (Hey, when the program warns you (not idly) to expect “glow-in-the-dark dicks” and the play is long on jocularity, can you really blame me for slipping in a dick joke?)

I don’t think there is a time and a place for everything, but now at the Garage Theatre is a good match for Measure for Pleasure.

MEASURE FOR PLEASURE • THE GARAGE THEATRE  • 251 E. 7th STREET  90813 • THU-SAT 8PM • $18; $15 FOR STUDENTS AND SENIORS; GROUP RATES AVAILABLE; 2-FOR-1 ON THURSDAYS • THROUGH MAY 29 • WWW.THEGARAGETHEATRE.ORG • (562) 433-8337

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