'Lady from London' is a light approach to love and money

July 21, 1995|By J. Wynn Rousuck | J. Wynn Rousuck,Sun Theater Critic

One of the wisest paths a less-experienced playwright can follow is to attempt something relatively light and uncomplicated. That's what Peter Levy does in his romantic comedy "Lady from London." The result is a relatively pleasant evening of theater -- the Spotlighters' first entry in this year's Baltimore Playwrights Festival.

Levy's plot focuses on two couples from different generations. The cutely named George and Georgette are the younger generation. The older is represented by George's visiting British aunt, Augusta, and Alan, the man to whom they introduce her.

Besides the vicissitudes of the heart, both romances are affected by money. George and Georgette's only income is a stipend from rich, widowed Augusta, who also bears the title Lady Deming. As we quickly learn, however, Augusta has made this trip to the States to inform George that she is cutting him off -- not out of enmity, but because she believes that after being supported for years, George should now earn his own living.

Like Augusta, Alan appears to be a person of means -- that's one reason George and Georgette thought they might hit it off. But Augusta and Alan also appear to have something else in common -- depleted fortunes. Can love survive without money? Augusta herself says, "To me, luxury is a necessity."

As Augusta, Kathy Turyn-Romaine may not seem quite as eccentric as her character purports to be, but she delivers the production's strongest performance. This helps compensate for the casting of actors whose ages, including hers, don't quite match the requirements of the script.

If Turyn-Romaine appears a bit young for all of the play's excessive old-age jokes, Michael Salconi's gray-haired George appears a bit too long in the tooth for a member of the younger generation. In addition, under Paul Campbell's lumbering direction, there doesn't seem to be enough chemistry between the lovers -- either Salconi's George and Brenda Crooks' Georgette, or Turyn-Romaine's Augusta and Richard Kirstel's Alan. And, in the small role of a foreign student whom George is tutoring in English, Anna Ballon would do well to attempt at least a semblance of an accent.

Besides the cracks about age, the script overdoes Augusta's habit of changing her mind about how formally she wishes to be addressed, depending on her shifting opinion of the person addressing her. There are also some amusing lines, however. For instance, Alan says his wife's "departed -- with someone else," and when George takes the tutoring job, he admits he's "succumbed to employment."

The production reinforces the slim, diverting nature of the plot with clever musical interludes between scenes, particularly in the second act, when soap-opera theme music punctuates Georgette's threat to break off her engagement to George.

Beyond the issues of love and money -- which are gently, if not to say superficially, treated here -- "Lady from London," doesn't have much depth. But in setting his sights on an attainable goal, playwright Levy has the satisfaction of coming close to achieving it.

'Lady From London'

Where: Spotlighters Theatre, 817 St. Paul St.

When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; through July 29

Tickets: $8 and $9

Call: (410) 752-1225

**

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