A recent Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park performance of “Ring Round the Moon” sometimes seemed to be going around in circles, but that was half the fun, since spinning can make you dizzy, like dancing.
Staged outdoors at the Myriad Gardens Water Stage, the production requires a considerable commitment, since it lasts nearly three hours, including two intermissions. But those attending are rewarded with a romantic comedy that brings to mind everything from “The Philadelphia Story” to “My Fair Lady,” seasoned with a dollop of French farcical absurdity.
Adapted by Christopher Fry from Jean Anouilh's “Invitation to the Castle,” the play is performed by a strong, 13-member cast, with even Servants 1 and 2 briefly stealing the show with their gymnastic antics.
Alex Enterline brings a roguish, Henry Higgins-like charm to Hugo, the 10-minute-older-twin, who seems to enjoy pulling people's strings, with a detachment that is both disturbing and hilarious.
Enterline is equally effective in his second, lesser role, as Frederic, the slightly younger twin, as trusting and clueless with women and the world as his brother is suave, cynical and overconfident.
The play isn't just about the two brothers, however, as the brilliantly written, if somewhat meandering script — and the rest of the performers — have a good time reminding us, from time to time.
Lauren Thompson is admirable as Isabella, a dancer with no pedigree, whom Hugo wants to make queen-for-a-night at a ball, to divert Frederic from getting engaged to a woman Hugo thinks is unsuitable.
The woman in question is Diana, played with just the right brittle but elegant, Roaring '20s veneer by Jamie Butemeyer, and their female catfight, when it finally comes, is memorable indeed.
Supremely outrageous and annoying is Caprice Woosley, as Isabella's interfering mother, who feels she has given up her artistic life as a pianist for her daughter, and seems to really want to be Cinderella herself.
In another surprising and disarming turn of events, Woosley is reunited, however implausibly, with a youthful friend, well-played by Ruth Charnay. Charnay gets across the outwardly prim but inwardly giddy and romantic qualities of Capulet, the companion of the seemingly mirthless, wheelchair-bound Mme. Desmortes, who takes her for granted.
Judith Midyett fills the latter role with deadpan, mordant wit and some of the play's best lines, plus a desire to create a happy ending by stage managing things, which take a long time to surface.
Other subplots are fleshed out by Kris Schinske as the danger-prone Lady India, Rick Cheek as her less risk-friendly lover, and Mark Johnson as a wishful collector of butterflies and ingenues. More comic momentum comes from Steve Emerson as an industrialist who tries to divest himself of his interests to go back to being a tailor in Poland and Brent Webber as the amiable, but dour butler.
Containing enough material for several plays, the production also benefits from Robert Pittenridge's period costumes, with men showing no sign of sweltering in their three-piece suits and formal attire.
Dated but delightful, the play directed by Shawn Churchman is not for those bothered by heat or the elements, but it is recommended for those who lament the lack of romance and imagination in our lives.
— John Brandenburg