Occasionally, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park gives the Bard some time off and stages work of other playwrights, ranging from classical to more modern plays. The results can be mixed, but it gives the company a chance to stretch artistically, and is a nice break for the rest of us.
Thus, OSP presents Ring Round the Moon, Christopher Fry’s adaptation of the 1947 French satire L’invitation au chateau by Jean Anouilh.
It is the type of modest romantic comedy that Hollywood cranked out by the score back in the mid-20th century. This Round appears to be set sometime in the last century on the French estate of Madame DesMortes (Judith Midyett), where some swells have gathered for a fancy-dress ball. She’s an expert at navigating branches of family trees; who is related to whom is of utmost importance to her.
Guests include her identical twin nephews, Frederic and Hugo (both played by Alex Enterline). Frederic is the kind, sensitive and intelligent one, while Hugo is the conniving opposite. The former suffers from being handsome, young and rich, while the latter exploits those disadvantages to the fullest. Hugo schemes to make his love interest, Diana (Jamie Butemeyer), jealous, using a ballet dancer from the Paris Opera, Isabelle (Lauren Thompson), as bait.
You probably could fill in the rest of the story yourself. The only question is how everyone gets paired up with the proper partner at the end. Directed by Shawn Churchman, the production runs a full three hours, and it may be a slog for anyone who doesn’t thrive on this sort of thing.
Looking and sounding like a leading man lifted right out of a 1940s rom-com, Enterline does a convincing job playing twins. Although some of the play’s characters have trouble telling the sibs apart, the audience does not. Enterline’s vocal inflections and mannerisms clearly delineate both brothers.
The performance is enjoyable, although Hugo can be a pill and his disdain for his social peers is never explained.
The production features a fine cast of actors, not always employed to their highest capabilities. One subplot involves a pair of lovers (Kris Schinske and Rick Cheek) who are backdrops to the main story. Another subplot reconnects Isabelle’s mother (Caprice Woosley) with a fellow musician (Ruth Charnay), both of whom had thought each other dead for 20 years.
Diana is the daughter of Messerschman (Steve Emerson), a self-made industrialist who never has succeeded at anything except making money. His millionairess daughter has not inherited his humble, good-natured characteristics. Diana and Isabelle get into a rich-girl-versus-poor-girl, hair-pulling catfight over Hugo, who’s hardly worth the effort.