If you could crush Molière and Mel Brooks, it might sound like “The Metromaniacs.”
A 2015 adaptation of an 18th-century French comedy “La Métromanie”, it cheerfully mixes the contemporary with the not-so-contemporary – imagine actors decked out in costumes meant to summon France to the time of Louis XV, complete with culottes and fitted bodices with Converse sneakers.
Brooks and Madeline Kahn, an actor in a handful of the director’s films, “have been an inspiration to me,” according to Sadie Crow, director of “The Metromaniacs” at the Little Lake Theater. “It’s an interesting mix of a period piece and totally modern.”
A Pittsburgh-area first, “The Metromaniacs” opened at Little Lake in North Strabane Thursday night and will be there this weekend and next. It’s a Pittsburgh-area first and an adaptation by playwright, novelist, and author David Ives, who also reworked three other plays in moldy French verse before trying his hand at “The Metromaniacs.” Ives calls them “transladaptations”, combining “translation” and “adaptation”.
“The Metromaniacs” was first staged by the Shakespeare Theater Company in Washington, D.C. Michael Kahn, the company’s artistic director and first production manager, explained in an interview: “It’s a charming satire romantic. Like many of Shakespeare’s comedies, it’s about a confused identity: a group of people who are addicted to poetry… fall in love and fall in love. The room is like a hall of mirrors. … There’s a sense of chaos in the room that (Ives) finds very amusing, as do I.
When “The Metromaniacs” debuted Off-Broadway in 2018, New York Times theater critic Jesse Green wrote that it “clamps contemporary English into pentametric couplets — and a story that, though “still too complex to summarize, doesn’t matter. Even after seeing and reading it, I can’t say I’m sure what’s going on, except that it’s about the character of gender-changing poet, here called Francalou (rhymes with “rankle you”), and his worm-loving daughter, his maid of a maid, two dashing suitors, a horny servant and a swaggering uncle. in the Parisian ballroom of Francalou, where he staged his own play on the same septet.
Last year, Crow led the production of Little Lake’s “And Then There Were None” and appeared in several company productions. By day, Crow is the Director of Marketing Development for the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra in West Virginia and explained that when it comes to conducting, she likes “to be the person who helps put it all together.”
Times for “The Metromaniacs” are 2 p.m. Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 8, Friday, September 9 and Saturday, September 10; and 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 11.
Additional information is available at littlelake.org.