Peter Shaffer—the man who brought a boy who blinded horses to stage with Equus (and gave Daniel Radcliffe the chance to undress on stage in its Broadway revival), and played games with Mozart and the man who claimed to poison him in Amadeus—hugely theatrical constructions, has also at times tipped his hand to comedy.
Specifically, he tailor-made Lettice and Lovage as a vehicle for the inimitable Maggie Smith, giving her another dazzling British eccentric, which in its Broadway run brought Dame Maggie a Best Actress Tony back in 1990.
“One of the sharpest, wittiest, most passionate and elegant plays of the year” was the verdict of the London Sunday Express on the original production.
The Homecoming Players serve it up in a deliciously cast staged reading this coming Monday and Tuesday, May 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Kitchen Theatre. Kristin Sad stars as the whimisical Lettice, and Robin Booth takes on the role of her nemesis, the highly practical Lotte. Also in the cast are Gavin Keaty and Katie Wallace. Mike Davie narrates, while George Sapio directs.
“Lettice Douffet, an expert on Elizabethan cuisine and medieval weaponry, is an indefatigable but daffy enthusiast of history and the theatre,” explained Artistic Director Rachel Hockett. “As a tour guide at Fustian House, a gloomy sixteenth-century building in London, she theatrically embellishes its historical past, ultimately coming up on the radar of Lotte Schoen, an inspector from the Preservation Trust.”
“Our emphasis in our third full season has been on gender parity and characters of substantial age, in plays that deliver the laughter,” she continued. “Lettice and Lovage fits this paradigm like a glove, and we couldn’t be more excited about the top-notch cast and crew we’ve assembled for this show.”
Sad is familiar from her turns as the title character in Arthur Bicknell’s Dotty last summer, and as Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? the previous summer. She has portrayed Mrs. Gibbs in Theatre Incognita’s Our Town, acted for Wolf’s Mouth and for Actors Workshop of Ithaca, and has a sideline narrating concert pieces.
Booth played one of the daughters in Homecoming’s production of In the Car with Blossom and Len. She is a regular performer of long standing with the Cornell Savoyards.
Katie Wallace is making her debut with Homecoming Players, but has been seen in Julius Caesar (Mark Antony), Richard II and Much Ado About Nothing with the Ithaca Shakespeare Company, and in Incognita’s Danny and the Deep Blue Sea. Keaty is making his Ithaca debut.
George Sapio is a playwright, director and actor, founder of both Wolf’s Mouth Theatre Company and the Ithaca Fringe Festival.
According to Sapio, he’s delighted with the “copious opportunities to mine for comedic content; the play positively brims with moments of sheer comedy” as well as charting the journey of two near opposite, “single mature women … making it through life in a day by day fashion when their paths cross, and they discover not just their own unsuspected reserves of fortitude, but a way help each other grow exponentially”
Homecoming Players will continue this summer with Quartet, starring Susannah Berryman, Arthur Bicknell, Greg Bostwick, and Judy Levitt at the Kitchen Theatre the weekend of July 24–26. This October they will reprise Dotty with the original cast on the Hangar stage.
“And we’re delighted that the Kitchen has renewed the invitation to be part of their Kitchen Sink Series for our fourth season. Stay tuned for the season announcement, coming soon,” concluded Hockett. •