|Gilbert Minus Sullivan|
--Theatre For a New Audience has revived an almost-forgotten 1877 play
by William S. Gilbert which turns out to be a comedic gem. Written before
he teamed up with Arthur Sullivan to write such operetta classics as The
Mikado and The Pirates of Penzance, Gilbert's ENGAGED skewers the "sacred
institution" of marriage in lightly satirical fashion.
Equally greedy are their fathers and mothers (Sloane Shelton, John Horton and James Gale), who know what a rascal Cheviot is but still urge their daughters to marry him because he's got a private income.
ENGAGED takes the air out of all the pomposity and sentimentality associated with marriage, and shows it for the unromantic, avaricious mess it so often is.
Gilbert does this in a farcical way that requires a skilful touch by actors and director alike. Gerald Gutierrez was supposed to oversee ENGAGED, but died suddenly before he could complete the job. His replacement, Doug Hughes, has done admirable, but not inspired work, but thanks, though, to first-rate contributions by its actors and designers (John Lee Beatty, set; Catherine Zuber, costumes), ENGAGED goes down easily indeed.
Lucille Lortel Theater, 121 Christopher St. (212) 239-6200 or (800) 432-7250