Feydeau's Folly, Janus Theatre, at Vail Street Cafe. Though his plays enjoyed moderate success at the turn of the century, hindsight reveals Georges Feydeau to be one of the lesser dramatists of his era--a particularly fertile period for challenging new work. Yet Feydeau simply continued in the much earlier vein of his countryman Moliere, borrowing stock situations and characters from Greek comedy and tailoring them to fit the tastes of the time. With Feydeau, what you see is what you get, and what you get are farces that usually revolve around a one-joke premise, require little or no emotional investment, aim for cheap laughs, and generally lack a dark edge or much depth.
Still, Feydeau was a master of farce, and it's nice to see his early one-acts resurrected, if only in the interest of historical preservation. Director Sean Patrick Hargadon and his cast have provided a fine introduction to two of them. Ladies' Man, in which two cousins quarrel over the affections of the same suitor, offers a predictably cynical view of love, while Wooed & Viewed depicts the outrageous lengths spouses will go to when the courtship is over. The Janus Theatre's production doesn't give Feydeau's scripts any additional bite, but Hargadon's crisp staging and the cast's charming, well-paced performances make it easy to see why many theatergoers found these low-commitment works appealing.