With opening day now in the rear-view mirror, the 2007 festival is officially up and galloping. The Constant Wife had its official premiere last night, as did Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Chamber Music program I, Rubberbandance Group, and jazz chanteuse Rene Marie at the Cistern.

The Glitterati were also out in full force, with parties across the peninsula. City Paper Scene correspondent Jonathan Sanchez and his wife Lauren were all over the soiree circuit yesterday; you can find Jonathan’s ongoing report on Spoleto’s fête set at his almost too entertaining blog, (it was stroke of genius for us to assign an award-winning fiction writer to comment on that species, if I do say so), while music writers Lindsay Koob and Fernando Rivas deconstruct the first day’s music offerings over at CP sister blog Eargasms. Mahagonny so far sounds to be a sumptuous bit of anti-capitalist irreverence, though apparently nobody would complain if the Sottile’s AC were turned up a notch.

My own experience with The Constant Wife last night was as pleasant and unsurprising a two hours as one can find in the theatre anywhere, anytime. If you’ve taken a few moments to familiarize yourself with the story, then you know exactly what you’ll get, and the Gate delivers it with a lace doily. Fans of Oscar Wilde will be, frankly, wild for this smart, top-notch production, in which Maugham’s droll one liners drop like confetti and the wit on display is as sharp as a barbed hook. But it’s also a perfectly conventional piece of theatre; Maugham wrote it in the late 20s, and while it has some timely (for the time) things to say about female empowerment, it’s not meant to be a Doll’s House or a Hedda Gabler. It’s a magnificent confection, with crack acting and a perfection of timing that even Jon Stewart would respect. (If there was anyone not clutching their sides during actor Simon Coats’ reaction to the news that his wife was going on holiday with another man in the final scene, they were either blind or deaf.) The Constant Wife, in short, is like the most extraordinary vanilla ice cream you’ve ever had.

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