I laughed, I chuckled, scoffed, snorted and rubbed my hands on my head and belly (you’d know if you went…). David Ives’ adaptation of the classic, written by Jean-Francois Regnard in 1708, is witty, full of great one-liners, references to modern pop culture, and just so silly. Please, do yourself a favor and see it before the production wraps in May. The Heir Apparent is terrific!
Heir is a classic comaedia piece, written in rhyme and full of curse words and audience participation; I got the full dose of cuckolds, nasty widows, heroes, and lovers (and I loved every minute!). The wealthy miser, Geronte (Paxton Whitehead), is on his death bed and tended by his two grossly underpaid servants Lisette (Claire Karpen) and Crispin (Carson Elrod) who want to get married but are flat broke. Geronte’s nephew, Eraste (Dave Quay) hurries to his uncle’s side in the hopes of beating out all the competition from other family members and taking the prize inheritance: one million francs. Eraste needs the money as he plans to marry his love, Isabelle (Amelia Pedlow) who is denied betrothal to him because her mother, The Madame Argante (Suzanne Bertish), wants wealth and power for her only offspring. A plan is hatched. Crispin, Lisette and Eraste decide to sweet talk the old man into writing a will that will bequeath all wealth to Eraste who will then share the bounty, allowing all to get married in lavish pomp. As this plan goes in to action, the Miser Geronte decides to marry Isabelle (much to The Madame Argante’s pleasure) causing total chaos. The stakes are made even higher when the Madame agrees to grant Eraste a small amount of time to provide a fortune, by being written in to his uncle’s will, and therefore win back the hand of the woman he loves.
This cast was rock solid. The language is all in rhyming couplets and can take a bit getting used to, but the physical comedy that Dave Quay and Carson Elrod brought to their characters were comic gold. I felt the time fly by as I watched the men dress in drag to try and trick the old Miser, there were fart jokes galore (well, it’s France, isn’t?) and the cherry on the cake was the halved lawyer, Scruple (David Pittu) shuffling in on his knees in the second act to write the will.
The set and costumes are all period, and the attention to detail was delightful (right down to a clock that chimes in fart noises!). Heir is certainly very similar to any Voltaire piece, but David Ives’ flair for witty one-lines will set this show apart from any other college Molier you may chance to see in the future. There is slap-stick humor everywhere, but at the core there are incredibly talented actors who are clearly having fun on stage, allowing the audience to relax into the silliness and just laugh and laugh.
The Heir Apparent, by David Ives, adapted from the play by Jean-Fracois Regnard, directed by John Rando.
WITH: Carson Elrod (Crispin), Claire Karpen (Lisette), Dave Quay (Eraste), Suzanne Bertish (Madame Argante), Paxton Whitehead (Geronte), Amelia Pedlow (Isabelle), and David Pittu (Scruple).
Scenic Design by John Lee Beatty, Costume Design by David C. Woolard, Lighting Design by Japhy Weidman, Sound Design by Nevin Steinberg, Wig/Hair Design by Paul Huntley, Production Stage Manager: Richard A. Hodge, Managing Director: Jeff Griffin. At the Classic Stage Company Theatre, 136 E. 13th street, New York. Through May 4th. Running time: 2 hours.