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Give the Lady What She Wants

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Give the Lady What She Wants, Touchstone Theatre.

The ads for Kendall Marlowe's new comedy proclaimed it a "hit" before performances had even begun; but despite the hopeful hype, it's much more of a miss. Attempting to emulate the comedies of Noel Coward and Philip Barry, whose portraits of witty socialites provided escape from Depression-era reality, Marlowe's tedious trifle concerns Rosalind Montereau, a bored multimillionaire who summons her financial adviser, Fletcher Stevenson, to her yacht so she can dump her fortune. Fletcher turns out to be her former lover, and they rekindle their romance; meanwhile Fletcher's girlfriend, Charlotte, begins an affair with his young colleague Leo.

The play lacks several crucial elements--including clever dialogue and credible conflict. Instead of scintillating repartee, Marlowe serves up interminable prattle about chocolates and champagne as sexual symbols. And because the mismatched lovers never seem concerned about each other's infidelity, there's no sense of emotional growth or dramatic resolution when they change partners; they're too amoral and self-absorbed to be interesting.

But far worse than the lame writing is the amateurish overacting under Ina Marlowe's direction. Kendall Marlowe's shrill voice and affected posturing make the insufferable Fletcher even more charmless than he's written; Rohanna S. Doylida plays Charlotte as a perky airhead straight out of a sexist giggle-and-jiggle sitcom; Steven J. Anderson's Leo is a gaping idiot; and Nick Polus and Michael Hagedorn are labored as a drunken guest and an oversolicitous waiter. Only Melinda Moonahan maintains a steady, centered presence in the underwritten role of Rosalind; but she should dump a yachtful of turkeys like this overboard--along with the script.

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