"SCENES FROM COURT LIFE" A WILD RIDE

 

BONNIE GOLDBERG

Hold on tightly to your pogo or hockey stick, well, in this case, your tennis racquet, for 350 years of political history as innovative and imaginative playwright Sarah Ruhl hop-scotches from the dynasties of the Charles Stuarts of Great Britain to the George Bushes of America in less than two and a half hours of creative theater telling at the Yale Repertory Theatre until Saturday, October 22. The world premiere of "Scenes from Court Life or the whipping boy and his prince" will surely open your eyes and mind to the startling revelations and similarities between these seemingly diverse historical families.

Yale Rep's University Theatre takes us seamlessly and flawlessly, quickly and repeatedly, like a championship tennis match at Wimbledon or the US Open, back and forth across the centuries, from King Charles I and his son, the royal prince Charles II, to American royalty George H. W. Bush and Barbara, sons George W. and Jeb and their spouses Laura and Columba. One moment you are dancing in the royal court and the next you are doing a Texas hoe down.

Keep your eye on the tennis ball as it bounces back and forth between the two stories as Greg Keller is alternately excellent as the young prince afraid of the crown he will soon wear and the ambitious son of a president eager for his chance to catch the golden ring on the merry-go-round. While Prince Charles has a whipping boy, Danny Wolohan, to take his punishment if he commits a sin, George W. has his younger brother Jeb, also brought to life by Danny Wolohan, to serve the same role.

In the early era, Charles I is accused of treason and beheaded and later number 41, President G. H.W. Bush counsels his sons on their positions of potential power. Both roles are captured with majesty by T. Ryder Smith. Mary Shultz is the loyal Barbara Bush, protective of her sons while Angel Desai serves a dual role as the harpsichord player who opens the scene and the supportive wife Laura.

Keren Lugo bridges the ages, first as the arranged wife of Charles II, as Catherine of Braganza from Portugal and later as Columba, the wife of Jeb. With our own contentious contest waging on our soil, it may be comforting to learn that "politics is essentially a tennis match. Some one wins and someone loses." Mark Wing-Davey presides over a masterful piece of theater, rife with video projections and unusual props and properties, with an excellent cast of actors on both sides of the pond.

For tickets ($44-88 ), call the Yale Rep at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org. Performances are Tuesday to Saturday at 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees October 19 and 22.

Come enjoy the sport of kings, admire George W's artwork, be privy to the inner workings of two regal families and marvel at the genius of Sarah Ruhl.

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