This Week in Theater
Written by Ferenc Molnár Freely
Review by Rose Desena
The Guardsman, Ferenc Molnar’s classic tale of deception and manipulation, comes to life in a stunning production. Molnar has a flair for telling stories that are timeless. Jealousy has always made for good theater, but this time it’s not combative. It is more about skill and wit.
Poor Max Schumann (Henry Olek). His gorgeous wife Elena (Susan Priver) is aloof and seems to spend her time with him sitting at her piano playing Chopin. Both Max and Elena are thespians of European theater. Elena has many fans that show their appreciation, while Max’s are more conservative. So he needs to get creative and find out what his flirtatious wife is up to and confirm his suspicions. His plan is to put together a little show that they both somehow star in, although this time there is no applause.
Dr. Heinrich Kraus (David Fruechting) is a family friend and confidante to Elena. He is a good catalyst for them and adds a little zip to their eccentric household, as do the meddling maids and the ex-nanny (Bonnie Snyder) who now is a mother figure to Elena. The house is always abuzz with these fun characters. Everyone is in sync and works well together.
I have seen The Guardsmen many times, but I adored this new version adapted by H. Patrikas Zakshevskis. It is crisp and allows the beautiful writing to shine through. It is a period piece but has a modern feel. Molnar originally wrote this play about young newlyweds, showing the innocence, naivety and inexperience of the young mind, but I have only seen it done with older actors.
The stage set by Joel Daavid is lovely as always. He is an amazing designer, adding a little NY to our LA stages. The art of seamless set changing is a true test of skill. Director Lillian Groag artistically directs two footmen ( Josh Imlay, Chad Anthony Miller) to carry out in style the few set changes. The two adorable and sharply dressed gentlemen do such a fine job, it’s as if they had been originally written into the script by Molnar.
Being a Westsider, I rarely go to North Hollywood. This was my first time at NOHO Arts Center, but I was very impressed and would go back. The theater is comfortable, and I found free parking at a meter with some nice restaurants within a few blocks of the Center.
I give this stunning production a “go see.” It’s good entertainment.
Written by Ferenc Molnár Freely adapted by H. Patrikas Zakshevskis
Directed by, Lillian Groag
Cast: Henry Olek, Susan Priver, David Fruechting, Kaitlin Huwe, Bonnie Snyder,
Josh Imlay, Chad Anthony Miller
Produced by Racquel Lehrman/Theatre Planners
Continues through June 22: Fridays at 8 p.m.: May 23, 30; June 6, 13, 20; Saturdays at 8 p.m.: May 24, 31; June 7, 14, 21; Sundays at 7 p.m.: May 25; June 1, 8, 15, 22
NoHo Arts Center 11136 Magnolia Blvd. North Hollywood, CA, 91601 : (323) 960-4418 or www.plays411.com/guardsman