The Curio Theater Does Tom Stoppard

The Curio Theater, on Baltimore and 48th Street in West Philadelphia, is my neighborhood theater. I’ve only seen two plays there, both of them by Tom Stoppard. If you have the time, and the inclination, I’d recommend The Real Inspector Hound. It’s playing for the next InspectorHoundBirdboottwo weekends. Good stuff and no need to screw the top of your head on too tight. It’s not a think piece. From my review:

Curio’s production is good fun, if smart sendups of The Mousetrap and critical pomp are your thing. The plot is a loving satire of the classic English mystery, as mass produced by Agatha Christie, with a set of characters inhabiting the hilariously desolate Muldoon Manor, which is easy to access, but nearly impossible to escape. (“I took the short cut over the cliffs and followed one of the old smugglers’ paths through the treacherous swamps that surround this strangely inaccessible home.”)

The characters are all absurd caricatures, from the charming rake Simon Gascoyne (Steve Carpenter) to the ridiculously overwrought Lady Cynthia (Jennifer Summerfield), who pines over the husband she lost years ago when he took an ill-advised stroll along the aforementioned misty cliffs.

But the meat of the play concerns the interplay between two theater critics— the morose Moon (Liam Castellan) and the rascally Birdboot (Ryan Walter)— who are half-watching the murder mystery while discussing (respectively) their careers and their romantic prospects. Birdboot is a portly connoisseur of chocolates and actresses, oscillating wildly between wanton lust and wounded righteousness (“I’ll have you know I’m a family man devoted to my homely but good-natured wife”).

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