"Mistakes Were Made" at Hartford Stage

By Tom Nissley

If you have been looking for a wacky play to keep you disconcerted, you can certainly find it at Hartford Stage new production - the ‘East Coast premiere’ - of Craig Wright’s "Mistakes Were Made." The script, which is also tacky by the way, tells the story of a down low producer who doesn’t think of theater except as a vehicle to put dumb actors and dumb playwrights together for his own profit. Felix Artifex (Will LeBow) is divorced but lonely for his ex, spends much time pining for her and talking to and compulsively feeding a pet fish, Denise (managed by puppeteer Stefano Brancato), and with seven or eight phone lines tries to put together a kingdom of jargon.

One of his backers has arranged for ten truckloads of sheep to be filmed for the background of a commercial in a country under invasion (Iraq?), and the innocent drivers of the caravan are now being held hostage by enemy or guerilla gunmen with flame throwers. The actor he’d like to be the leading man wants more lines in a play about the French Revolution. The writer of the play is offended by the idea of re-writing even one line. All of this, and more of exactly the same level of drivel, is managed in a long and intriguing serial monologue by Mr. LeBow, so that while you won’t be captivated by the lines he speaks, you will certainly be mesmerized by his ability to speak them, yelling here, threatening there, cajoling or pleading with different someones on the other end of a phone line for ninety minutes straight.

The set, which shows a fairly respectable office suite meant to be in New York, with a large aquarium for Denise, and an opaque window beyond which Mr. Artifex’ assistant, Esther (Susan Greenhill), fields calls outgoing and incoming, is handsome and works well. The costumes might be more polished than the characters call for. The lighting is fun and excellent, showcasing the puppeteering as well as the acting. Jeremy B. Cohen directs.

The writing, on the other hand, feels as if a creative mind collected ten or twelve things that could not possibly go together and tried to cook up a bad satire about producing a play using all of them. Craig Wright succeeded in doing just that.

The bottom line: "Mistakes Were Made" is a really strange play with no redeeming social value or other interest except the amazing theatrics of Mr. LeBow and a managed fish. If you want to see them, you’ll find tickets and schedules at www.hartfordstage.org

Tom Nissley for the Ridgelea Reports on Theatre  November 6, 2009

Tom Nissley is a well-known realtor in New Canaan, and a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle. He has reviewed plays and music events that expand the quality of life in Connecticut for 25 years, and he's also available, of course, to consult with you about real estate.

 

Tom Nissley at the
Ridgelea Institute
New Canaan, CT 06840
203-322-1400 direct

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