"Taking Steps," a British farce written by Sir Alan Ayckbourn, is a two-and-a-half hour ride through a day and night of a British family who is trying to buy an old brothel.
Timing is a key element of all comedy and the show clicked on all cylinders. The story follows three lines. Elizabeth Crabbe, played by UAA-grad Molly Killoran, is trying to leave her husband Roland (Tony Batres,) with the help of her brother Mark Boxer (Nick Lynch.) Boxer is trying to get back with his fiancŽe Kitty (Janet Stoneburner.) And Roland is trying to buy the three-story house the play takes place in from Leslie Bainbridge (Matthew Immel,) with the help of green junior law partner Tristan Watson (Glen Wall.) Confusing you say? Well, that's the point.
The better lines and situations of the play fall to Watson. Throughout the play his inability to speak, fit in, follow directions and stay out of trouble are carried off without lapses in judgment and the delivery is flud. His story line is interlaced with the other two to provide the audience with an array of visuals and physical comedy reminiscent of vaudeville.
Acting as a stopgap in the play, when the laughter has a chance to wane and the plot has a chance to come forward, is the "tough love" issued by Mr. Boxer toward his world-weary ex-fiance Kitty. Boxer has it in his mind that planning is important and is prone to long exposition that allows for a more-refined humor, although the audience can come to expect the end result whenever Boxer opens his mouth.
The story takes place in a three-story house but is set on the cozy stage at Cyrano's. Dale Van Sandts' set design was evenly laid out so the audience could follow the actors on their running and rants. And there is a lot of running. The actors have to climb and descend three imaginary staircases and the running gag never seems to get played out.
Immel steals some of the scenes with his ability to portray emotions ranging from nervousness to shock without making the audience forget the dialogue and actions he plays off of. He is trying to get the house sold, as his business has fallen on hard times and Mr. Crabbe is less than ready to sign on the dotted line.
Killoran as Lizzy, the ex-dancer and Rolands' wife, affects a passable British accent but is over-shadowed due to her lack of stage time. Her departure and subsequent return mark the low and high points of the play, but it is her character's lack of composure that makes the story unfold. And what a story it is.
The play is cyclical, and the jokes never over-run each other. Ayckbourn shows the audience the underpinnings of small-town people with big dreams left unfulfilled. It is a story that pokes through the holes of modern conventions on what is right and wrong and lets the audience try and identify with the characters through the decisions they make. It is hard to understand the accents of some of the players, but they more than make up for it with their timing and delivery.
Under the direction of Lainie Dreas 'Taking Steps' takes some steps in showing that local theatre does not necessarily mean bad theatre, as the show had no awkward pauses or noticeable errors.
The show runs through the July 28, and the student rate is $10. Starting at 7 p.m., it offers you the chance to get out and laugh a lot, and still come out of the show with time enough to appreciate the Alaskan summer. This time with a smile on your face.�