Theatre at UBC

The Marriage of Figaro

By Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais
Translated by David B. Edney

Director: Marek Czuma Set design: Kevin McAllister Lighting design: Melissa Novecosky Costume design: Christine Reimer Choreographer: Sarah Ferguson Composer: Timothy Pickett Choral Directors: Amanda Murdoch, Helenna Santos Stage Manager: Natalie Gemmell

Venue: The Frederic Wood Theatre Dates: 13 - 22 March 2003

Reviewer: Jane Penistan

The amusing plots and interweaving intrigues in this play are almost as intricate as the mechanism of a timepiece. The 18th-century author was both a skilled playwright and watchmaker, who also had many other talents. He was the epitome of a man of the Enlightenment. In this translation of the French text, David B. Edney has managed to inject the sharp wit and humour, which must have been in the original. This makes for an evening's entertainment little less enjoyable than the popular and well known Mozart opera Le Nozze di Figaro, which libretto is derived from the Beaumarchais work.

This production runs at a rollicking pace, with repartee interchanged with celerity and scenes changed at the drop of a flat. Fleet footed dancers move furniture and properties prestissimo. The Spanish/Moorish architecture and colourful costumes shine in the bright southern sunshine created by the lighting department. Upstairs/downstairs characters are clearly defined by the elegance or uniformity of their costume.

As Figaro, Ryan Egan is the wily, conniving valet to the aristocratic, autocratic Count Almaviva (Jason Nicola). Both men try to score off each other in their own way, with Figaro being by far the more nimble-witted. The long suffering countess is charmingly realized by the beautifully dressed and convincing Stephanie Biela who is sustained and assisted by her maid, the clever, quick witted Suzanne (Tara Avery), Figaro's betrothed. Matt Ellis, as Cherubin, is enchanting and the most musical singer in the cast. This talented young man is also one of the musicians, who accompany the whole performance as onstage guitarists and violinist. Paul David Richter as Antonio is an outraged gardener and father of Fanchette (Christie Leigh). Sarah Ferguson is an imposing Marceline besides being the very adept choreographer.

While this is a long script, the performance never becomes tedious. The energy and controlled pace of the production keep the action moving, but also allows moments of quiet for amorous interludes and space to generate future strategic ploys.

Here is a rare opportunity to witness a theatrical rather than an operatic presentation of The Marriage of Figaro. This socially critical satire is entertaining, enjoyable and well performed by the cast of the Theatre, Film and Creative Writing Department of UBC. Perhaps the other two parts of the trilogy of the adventures of Figaro, The Barber of Seville will be presented in future.

2003 Jane Penistan