Hop on board! You’ve never been on a journey like this. Ever. And I advise you to book passage immediately in this KEEN COMPANY production at The Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row ONLY THROUGH NOVEMBER 14th.
TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT based on the 1969 novel of the same name by Graham Greene and brilliantly adapted by Giles Havergal (1989) for four men is astonishing. You read that right – four MEN – one of whom portrays Aunt Augusta and her nephew Henry with the other three portraying Henry and a slew of other unforgettable and totally believable characters.
The ensemble of expert thespians are: Thomas Jay Ryan, Jay Russell, Dan Jenkins and Rory Kulz. Bravo to one and all.
Guided by the imaginative Jonathan Silverstein this production is a theatrical banquet, full of savory characters and delicious wit leaving one completely sated. Even if it is a tad long. I’ve discovered there is a shorter 50 minute version out there but that would be too short. A happy medium would make this two act version shorter by about fifteen minutes.
It is performed straight. No camp here. And the story will keep you enthralled as you witness the slight-of-hand that each actor accomplishes as he switches character in the blink of an eye. Different ages, different genders, different accents (even a dog) – all done so smoothly you can’t imagine how they will keep it going. Yet they do. Beautifully.
As we enter there are four vacant black chairs on stage in front of a nondescript building that is in front of a scalloped curtain. Lights down. When they come up four gentlemen dressed exactly alike looking very much the British banker – 3 piece black suit, watch fob and black bowler hat commence the story of Henry Pulling and his Aunt Augusta which takes them on a journey hither and yon. Full of surprises. Smuggling. Police. And the CIA.
Aunt Augusta an independent witty woman married many times over is torn between her present lover Wordsworth and Visconti. Intrigue follows both Augusta and Henry as they leave England on The Orient Express to meet up with Abdul in Istanbul – hitting Paris and Paraguay along the way.
The set (Steven C. Kemp) is like an Advent Christmas Calendar – with surprise secret compartments opening up for props and the like. Sound and light cues abound but never intrude with the actors as they engage us in this engaging story with a surprise and endearing ending.
Miming is of the essence. Case in point. When Mr. Ryan as Augusta removes her hat. She first removes an invisible hat pin. Details like this are truly scrumptious. As is the entire invigorating production.
Photo Credit – Carol Rosegg
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