Produced by the Village Playhouse
May 1-3, 9-10, 8 p.m.
May 4, 5 p.m.
730 Coleman Blvd., Mt. Pleasant
Semi-enchanting, completely charming, Village Playhouse’s Enchanted April brings to life post-World War I England and the women who lived there.
In a word, it’s an audience pleaser.
Directed by Keely Enright, Enchanted April is the story of Lottie Wilton (Beth Curley), a chatty, overly enthusiastic sort determined to change the cards dealt to her in life, and Rose Arnott (Enright), a women from church whom Lottie describes as a “disappointed Madonna.”
They happen to meet at their ladies’ club when both catch sight of an ad in The Times. “Do you like sunshine and wisteria?” it asks. “Then a castle in Mezzago, Italy, is the place for you.”
Lottie, tired of the never-ending drizzle and her husband’s never-ending drivel (Mellersh Wilton played by Dusty Bryant), convinces the pragmatic Rose to join in her escape — one month in Italy with no husbands.
Seems a sure-fire way to better their situations. Only one snafu — they need two other ladies to cover the costs of the castle.
Enter Lady Caroline (Emily Wilhoit), a muse to every fashionable London artist, and Mrs. Graves (Samille Basler), a dowager who takes her tea at 2 o’clock and not a minute after.
This is classic British ensemble theater. Hence, husbands appear and hilarity ensues. Luckily for Charleston audiences, Enright did well in her casting.
Curley as Lottie is perfect in her ability to annoy her fellow travelers and in her interpretation of the group’s passionate ring leader. She also plays well opposite Enright.
It’s difficult to direct oneself. Though Enright had some of the best facial expressions and surprisingly poignant moments of the show, at many points it was extremely difficult to hear her.
A 70-something gentleman approached me during intermission and asked if I was catching everything. He said he’d missed a great deal of the first act due to her soft voice. He also mentioned that indeed his hearing aids did need replacing, but given the age of many of the Village Playhouse’s season-ticket holders, a swift remedy of the sound situation is recommended.
Wilhoit vamped it up as Lady Caroline, and excellent period costumes, like her long silky sheath, aided her strutting. As far as character actors go, however, Basler as Mrs. Graves was dynamite. One might think a matriarch role given to an older lady would be simple enough, but it was Basler’s comic timing that really made the finicky lady funny.
The diminutive stage exploded in color for the second act. The curtain was drawn and a full Italian castle appeared with stairs leading out to the garden on the skirt of the stage. With Enchanted April‘s minimalist first act scenery, I was concerned I’d be producing images of Tuscany from memory, but I was pleased to see the stage transformed.
The play ends with a playwright crutch, a monologue wrap-up.
Personally, I’m not a fan. Why do we need the main character to stand on the drape and tell us what happened to the rest of the cast over the next 30 years? Let the show end where it ends. But that’s a matter to take up with playwright Matthew Barber.
Stay cool. Support City Paper.
City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.