The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

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THE PRINCESS BRIDE: S. MORGENSTERN'S CLASSIC TALE OF TRUE LOVE AND HIGH ADVENTURE, Storefront Theater. William Goldman's grown-up fairy tale is exuberantly theatrical, anticipating Stephen Sondheim's equally revisionist Into the Woods. Making a drama out of Goldman's novel, as Mark Crowell and Dale Ludwig do in this faithful adaptation, is child's play. But at 145 minutes, their treatment may strain a child's patience. Certainly it requires a solid taste for whimsy. (Goldman repeatedly dislocates the action by commenting on "S. Morgenstern's" tale, which Goldman is supposedly abridging.)

In Goldman's flippant antifantasy, Westley and Buttercup are sublimely silly protagonists: he's the swashbuckling Man in Black while she's a professional princess/damsel in distress. Encountering such unlikely allies as a Turkish giant and a Spanish swordsman, they fend off foppish Prince Humperdinck, who has his own Zoo of Death.

Best known for his action-packed films Marathon Man and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Goldman also has a devilish camp sensibility, which director Greg Owen abundantly exploits. Here Wiffle bats serve as swords and mops stand in for horses. Jessica Dunton has the right deadpan to subvert Buttercup's heroine habit, and as hunky Westley, Sam Munoz oozes derring-do. Kelly Cooper's unctuous Humperdinck is a pompous hoot, Hugh Grant minus the sap.

--Lawrence Bommer

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