The Play's the Thing

By staff January 2, 2008


There’s frothy fun in the Asolo’s The Play’s the Thing.


By Kay Kipling


It was pleasant at the onset of the holidays to find oneself transported to a sophisticated, amusing world where men wear dinner jackets, everyone sips champagne, and nothing, not even a broken heart, is allowed to stop the progress of the next big hit for a trio of theatrical collaborators.


That would be the world of the Asolo Repertory Theatre’s The Play’s the Thing, P.G. Wodehouse’s adaptation of Ferenc Molnar’s oft-copied play about an overheard and intensely private conversation between a pair of ex-lovers that leads to a desperate and funny “rewrite” by an unflappable playwright. No wonder theater people love this piece.


The playwright is Sandor Turai (Douglas Jones), who with partner Mansky (James Clarke) turns up in a lovingly imagined 1930s Art Deco Palm Beach hotel suite (designed by Nathan Heverin), where they and their young composer friend (Juan Javier Cardenas) plan to meet the star of their show (Dana Green), who also happens to be the composer’s flame. But of course there’s that matter of the conversation next door to be dealt with first—the one where the lady in question seems to be having an intimate encounter with an ex (Bryan Torfeh) who’s a very married man. You can, perhaps, imagine something of what happens next.


It’s all played to the hilt by the cast, especially Jones, Green and Torfeh, who scores the biggest laughs of the evening when he must, in Act II, unreel a never-ending list of French names and noble titles as part of a play Turai has hurriedly scribbled to convince his collaborators of the lady’s innocence so all can go on as it should. Everyone seems comfortable with the type of deliberate comic overacting required here, and the action under Greg Leaming’s direction moves along at an assured pace.


Douglas Jones, Dana Green and Bryan Torfeh in the Asolo Rep’s The Play’s the Thing.


All in all, The Play’s the Thing is a tasty confection that should delight those who want to stay away from more calorie-laden desserts in the New Year. It continues in rotating rep at the Asolo through March 13; call 351-8000 or visit for tickets.

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