Alice Sit-By-The-Fire LA Weekley

Theater Reviews: Alice Sit-By-The-Fire, Groundlings
By L.A. Weekly Theater Critics
Monday, December 31, 2007 – 12:00 pm

ALICE SIT-BY-THE-FIRE J.M. Barrie’s 1919 comedy is a far more earthbound affair than his earlier success, Peter Pan, yet it still provides a sweet concoction of precocious observations, misinterpreted dialogue and send-ups of contemporary melodrama. Orson Bean appears as The Playwright — i.e., Barrie reciting his own chatty stage directions — who introduces us to the world of Amy and Cosmo Grey (Betty Wigell and Miles Marsico). They are an adolescent brother and sister about to meet their parents, Alice and Colonel Robert Grey (Alley Mills and Bruce French), who’ve returned to their London home after the colonel’s long Army posting in India — an absence that made them strangers to their own children. Amy and her friend Ginevra (Tania Getty) live in a time when girls’ imaginations were aroused not by boys or drugs but by their first visits to the theater. Influenced by romantic stage potboilers, the eavesdropping pair mistake a harmless conversation between Alice and the colonel’s friend, Stephen Rollo (Neil McGowan), as proof of an illicit love affair. Soon, Amy finds herself hiding from her parents in Stephen’s wardrobe as miscommunications pile up among the characters. Director Joe Olivieri delivers a production that is neither taxidermied relic nor overly precious giggle-fit, and gets a fine comic performance from Wigell.Barrie’s play floats through its three acts — a harmless bubble that perhaps stirred the ribald histrionics of Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw and many another later farce.

PACIFIC RESIDENT THEATRE, 705½ Venice Blvd., Venice; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 10. (310) 822-8392. (Steven Mikulan)

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