The Cottage is a frothy, fizzy drawing room comedy with enough laughs to keep audiences happy as they drift out of the boutique-like Helen Hayes Theatre. It also has the best flatulence scene since the bean eating sequence from the film Blazing Saddles.
Directed with comedic aplomb by Jason Alexander, the show begins innocently enough with the next morning afterglow of two lovers - Sylvia (Laura Bell Bundy) and Beau (Eric McCormack). Slowly, and deliciously, what unfolds is not what we think as other characters begin to enter the sumptuously detailed living room by Scenic Designer Paul Tate dePoo III. I don’t want to spoil the fun that playwright Sandy Rustin has swimmingly fashioned, but let’s just say there are a continual array of surprises and humorous clowning that are unceasingly entertaining. Enough said.
Mr. Alexander knows his way around scenic comedy and Broadway productions (he was in the original cast of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along at age 22 and won a Tony Award for Jerome Robbins’ Broadway). His set-ups are well-orchestrated without seeming forced. He allows his highly talented cast to take the reins of a scene and play it to the hilt. As Director, he humorously appends a few running jokes, such as off-beat cigarette storage containers - that add a quick chuckle.
Ms. Rustin has crafted a delectably appetizing treat with characters that are at times pompous, arrogant, dimwitted, but decidedly funny. Just when you think there can be no more surprises, she reaches into her theatrical bag of tricks to produce one more hilarious revelation.
The cast, handsomely outfitted by Costume Designer Sydney Maresca, is superbly shepherded by Jason Alexander. They are a well-oiled ensemble and a joy to watch. Eric McCormack shows his leading man chops as the put upon, philandering lawyer Beau. Laura Bell Bundy, lushly adorned in a platinum blonde wig, is the perfect foil as the beleaguered Sylvia. The actress has enough eye rolls and facial tics to conjure up the ghost of British comedian Marty Feldman. Alex Moffat, combines the chaotic madness honed from his Saturday Night Live days with a dash of Monty Python antics to give his character Clarke a manic silliness. Lilli Cooper (Marjorie), always a reliable performer, is more the straight (wo)man in the show with one uproariously hysterical scene. Dana Steingold, a petite dynamo of a performer tithers her way through the production with dizziness and gumption as the not-so-waifess Dierdre. Nehal Joshi, is wide-eyed and genuinely woeful as Michael…or is that Richard.
The Cottage, a worthy diversion during these last days of summer.