Puns, one-liners and questions flew around the stage of Westview High’s beautiful theatre on Saturday, November 7, 2009 as the charming cast tried to reverse romantic curses and answer the proverbial question “What is the purpose of man’s existence?”  Well, the audience may not have had the answer to the last question, but it certainly knew the answer wasn’t “12”, as the comical Dr. Zubritsky declared.   One thing the audience did know is they were in for quite a night of foolish comedy well played. 

It’s 1890 in the remote Ukranian town of Kulyenchikov.  Leon, a young and handsome schoolteacher played by the talented Connor Bush, learns that he has only 24 hours to break a centuries-old curse that has turned all the residents of this town stupid.  Should Leon fail, then he will lose his ability to think and become subject to the curse as well.  Leon can break the spell only one of two ways.  First, he can find a way to educate the doe-eyed beauty Sophia Zubritsky, played with sweet sincerity by Annie Buell.  Or Leon can find a way to convince the townspeople that Sophia has married a Yousekevitch, the family that long ago brought forth the evil curse.  But Leon has a problem, for one look at the beautiful Sophia and he is smitten.  Now Leon must worry about Count Yousekevitch (Eugene Shtilkind) stealing Sophia’s hand before Leon has a chance to make everything right.  

Director Douglas C. Smith has fun with this romantic comedy, using Set Designer Alexandria Allen’s multiple-level set to recreate a slapstick version of Shakespeare’s balcony scene, with poor Leon climbing up, only to find his airhead Sophia down on the ground.  Bush plays the frustrated Leon well, keeping the audience apprized of his thoughts, and moving quickly between puns and repartees.  Meanwhile, the audience can almost see the fog surrounding Buell, and the moment it lifts.  

But perhaps the most delightful surprise of this romp is the inseparable team of Dr. and Mrs. Zubritsky, played by Bill Wuehrmann and Erika Dukovich, respectively.  Together, these two actors have the greatest number of puns and one-liners, and they savor their role.  They are completely believable as an old married couple and doting parents.  For both the jokes are never forced, and Dukovich uses physical comedy with ease.  Another actor worth special note is Kirsten Miller, who plays the sheepless shepherd Something Something Snetsky.  The moment Miller stepped on stage, this reviewer found herself hoping to see more of Miller.  Miller’s intonation was excellent and she played well off her fellow actors.  

All wasn’t fun and games.  At times, the jokes dragged a bit.  For a comedy like Fools to work, the pace must be very fast indeed, and when moving so quickly, articulation is a must so the jokes are received by the audience.  But the actors clearly enjoy the play and each other, and their energy and enthusiasm are readily apparent, from the lead players to the ensemble and their most excellent wedding dance.  We in the audience may never be given the answer to the question “what is the purpose of man’s existence”, but in this production, to paraphrase Mrs. Zubritsky, “Aren’t puns beautiful enough?” 

Performs November 5-14, 2009 

Christine B. Mersten
National Youth Theatre 

~ Cast ~ 

Leon – Connor Bush
Snetsky – Kirsten Miller
Slovitch – Sanket Padmanabhan
Magistrate – Austin Anderson
Mishkin – Michael Pogerbinsky
Yenchna – Rachel Pence
Dr. Zubritsky – Bill Wuehrmann
Lenya Zubritsky – Erika Dukovich
Sophia Zubritsky – Annie Buell
Gregor Yousekevitch – Eugene Shtilkind (and Josh Walden on Nov 14)
The Cow – Kelly Martin 

Devon Bohart
Maybelle Covington
Amanda Floco
Audriana Hull
Kelly Martin
Wendy Matsutani
Sarah Pence
Josh Walden 

Director:  Douglas C. Smith
Asst. Director:  Emily Hundley
Stage Manager:  Stephen Gibson
Producer: Lauren Zinn
Production Manager:  Kirsten Miller
Set Designer:  Alexandria Allen
House Managers:  Shawn McCombs, Roxy Sadri
Asst. Stage Managers:  Sami Dalvano, Nicole Valderez


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