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The Heir Apparent
by David Ives
Adapted from the play by Jean-Francois Regnard
Directed by Donna Northcott
St. Louis Shakespeare
August 26, 2016

Cast of The Heir Apparent Photo: St. Louis Shakespeare

Cast of The Heir Apparent
Photo: St. Louis Shakespeare

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way”, but what if there isn’t a will? Will, in the inheritance sense, that is. That’s the premise for the madcap, witty, lightning-paced adaptationc The Heir Apparent, currently on stage at the Ivory Theatre as presented by St. Louis Shakespeare. With tons of energy, clever staging and a ridiculously funny story, this production is a comic treat.

The comically convoluted story is set in 18th Century Paris. A poor, lovestruck young man, Eraste (Scott McDonald) wants to marry his beloved Isabelle (Jeannita Perkins), who also wants to marry him. The problem is that Isbelle’s mother, the socially ambitious Madame Argante (Margeau Steinau) doesn’t care if her daughter’s in love. She wants Isabelle to marry for money, and Eraste doesn’t have any. He does, however, have a wealthy uncle, Geronte (Shane Signorino) who is in poor health and who hasn’t yet written his will. Since Madame Argante has told Eraste that he can only marry Isabelle if he is made sole heir in Geronte’s will, Eraste is on the verge of despair until servant Crispin (Isaiah DiLorenzo) and Geronte’s mistreated maid Lisette (Britteny Henry) offer their assistance and a series of convoluted plots ensues.  That’s the basic set-up, but there’s a whole lot going on here, with a host of plot twists, sight gags, and witty banter as the story moves along to its zany conclusion.

This is a crazy play, with so much going on that it wouldn’t be too difficult to lose track of the plot, except that director Donna Northcott has staged this production extremely well, and the cast members all seem to be having a great time. The seven member ensemble is extremely well-cast, led by DiLorenzo as the scheming Crispin and Henry as his snarky girlfriend and accomplice, Lisette. Signorino is also gleefully surly as Geronte, and Steineau is hilariously haughty Madame Argante. McDonald and Perkins make a sweetly goofy couple as Eraste and Isabelle, and Anthony Winninger steals many a scene as Geronte’s lawyer, Scruple, whose diminutive stature requries Winninger to spend the entire performance walking around on his knees. There are lots of rhymes, mile-a-minute dialogue, and physical comedy that is handled extremely well by this excellent cast.

The whimsical nature of the show is well-reflected in Chuck Winning’s colorful set and Michelle Siler’s delightfully wacky costumes. There are also some fun surprises with the set that add to the comedy. Ted Drury’s sound and James Spurlock’s lighting are also excellent, adding to the mood of the produciton.

If you want to laugh a lot, see this show. It’s silly, it’s fast-moving, and it’s full of frantic energy.  It calls to mind this company’s previous successes with last year’s Wild Oats and 2014’s The Liar.  The Heir Apparent is another comic triumph for St. Louis Shakespeare.

St. Louis Shakespeare is presenting The Heir Apparent at the Ivory Theatre until September 4, 2016.

 

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