Chicago Theatre Review
Haughty, Hilarious Satire in Stage Left’s ‘The Coward’
The Coward – Stage Left Theatre
“The whole idea of dueling, the idea of two men agreeing to stand 10 paces away from each other and politely murder each other in the morning, is hilarious to me,” say Nick Jones of the motivation behind “The Coward,” his new play which has received a stellar (and hysterical) Midwest Premiere from Stage Left Theatre at the ever capable Theater Wit.
“The Coward” concerns itself with Lucidus, a kindly (albeit silly and privileged) member of the British aristocracy circa 1790 who, much to his father’s chagrin, has yet to engage in a duel, and has been labeled a “coward” by fellow members of the ruling class. Thus, in an effort to prove himself worthy of his distinguished lineage, Lucidus embarks on a quest to duel, though the results are hardly what he anticipates.
The casting is key in a comedy, and it’s difficult to consider a better assortment of performers than what Stage Left has assembled. From Brian Plocharczyk’s spot-on Lucidus, to Stephen Walker’s side-splitting Nathaniel Culling (Lucidus’ father), to Robert McLean (a company member with The Hypocrites) in a three-character performance, Stage Left’s cast doesn’t so much bring Jones’ play alive as romp through it with glee, and it’s an absolute joy to behold.
And indeed, it’s Jones’ lively writing and scintillating dialogue that is the real star here. Red Orchid’s staging of Jones’ surreally hilarious “Trevor” was one of 2013’s best productions, and though “The Coward” is not nearly as bizarre (then again, not many plays can match a production centered around a demented, star-stricken chimpanzee), it’s satire and irreverence are even sharper, and it leaves on yearning for more of Jones’ plays in the hands of such a talented cast and crew.
Reviewed by Peter Thomas Ricci
Presented August 30 – Oct. 5 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago
Tickets are available by calling 773-975-8150 or by visiting www.stagelefttheatre.com
Additional information about this and other spectacular area productions is available at the one, the only, the indefatigable www.theatreinchicago.com.