If you are seeking a play that offers a clear plot with a purpose, you will not find it in Honest Pint Theatre Company’s production of The Metromaniacs by playwright David Ives. Instead, what you will find is, as Ives suggests: “characters drunk on language and fools in love with love.” The story is too complex to summarize. The Metromaniacs is based on a little-known play from 1738 called La Métromanie by Alexis Piron, and the title literally means a “mania for writing verses and poetry” and is one of Ives’ several “transadaptations” of French plays.
Even after seeing the play and reading through the script, I can’t say I am sure what happens. Yearning for some sort of theme, this Phantom reviewer reflected on what might be hidden underneath all these rhyming couplets that flow at a rapid pace and physical adeptness from each character betrayed before us. There must be more here than five plots that are as unimportant as David Ives suggests.
There must be a point to all of this verse, or is Ives averse to a theme to make a point? Maybe it is this: that the very idea of love is just not the same as being in love. This is true of so many things that we think of as ideas. For example, the idea of leadership is not the same as being a leader, the idea of good works is not the same as doing good, and so on. You get my point.
Maybe David Ives is setting out to test us, pushing us to reflect on what our passions are, what our ideas of those passions might be, and what we are really passionate about actually doing. Perhaps, the craziness in society today, including our nightly talking heads, sound bites, vitriol, empty promises, and lack of action, is being challenged to “be something,” as opposed to just talking about being.
Honest Pint Theatre Company’s production of The Metromaniacs hosts an array of talent across the board, and they work well together to deliver good-natured farcical fun. Particularly charming is Tara Nicole Williams, who delivers a wide-eyed and perfectly timed portrayal as Lucille. Sean A Brosnahan also brings back to the Triangle his acting gifts, and we are happy to welcome him with open arms.
As an ensemble, this group shines under the sure-handed and well-timed direction of Susannah Hough and David Henderson, co-artistic directors of Honest Pint Theatre Company. Scenic painter Meredith Riggan has delivered a wonderful cartoonish forest that lives right in the middle of everything in the rich home, and Thomas Mauney’s lighting design partners well with the action of the play and the set. Sheila Hiatt Cox’s lush costumes are right in step with 18th century styles.
Lots of contemporary references are woven into the script, each funny and flowing as naturally from these characters as easy as common conversations; and if you are able to keep up, you will laugh out loud. It is wonderful, during the performance, to hear audience members just laugh.
Even though The Metromaniacs might actually be about nothing, it does provide the opportunity to just chuckle out loud and go to this other place somewhere other than the “right here and now.” Finally, it is a testament to the original text by Alexis Piron and to the genius of David Ives that we get to experience a story that takes us on a journey without a map, as it’s so full of comedic ups, downs, twists, and turns.
There are times when all this rhyming and fast pace make us a little fatigued, but it’s a good exercise for the brain. If you’re up to the challenge, and can keep up with the pace, then spend an evening of fun with these artists on this lovely wild ride!
SECOND OPINION: Sept. 17th Cary, NC RDU on Stage review by Kim Jackson: https://rduonstage.com/2019/09/17/review-honest-pints-metromaniacs-serves-up-silly-syllabic-romp/ and Sept. 15th podcast interview with actress Tara Nicole Williams, conducted by Lauren Van Hemert; and Sept. 14th Raleigh, NC CVNC review by Alan R. Hall: https://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=9543.
The Honest Pint Theatre Company presents THE METROMANIACS at 8 p.m. Sept. 20 and 21, 3 p.m. Sept. 22, 8 p.m. Sept. 27 and 28, and 3 p.m. Sept. 29 at the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre, 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615, in the Food Lion Shopping Center.
TICKETS: $22 Thursday-Saturday ($20 students, teachers, seniors, and active-duty military personnel).
BOX OFFICE: 919-866-0228, firstname.lastname@example.org, or https://nract.secure.force.com/ticket/#details_a0S1H00000SnqIPUAZ.
SHOW: https://www.honestpinttheatre.org/the-metromaniacs and https://www.facebook.com/events/1136839409844184/.
VIRTUAL PLAYBILL: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/1c4517_98ae672a9d6147aeba23179647a49ce4.pdf.
PRESENTER: https://www.honestpinttheatre.org/, https://www.facebook.com/honestpinttheatrecompany/, and https://twitter.com/HonestPintthe8r.
VENUE: http://www.nract.org/, https://www.facebook.com/NRACT, and https://twitter.com/NRACT.
La Métromanie (1737 comedy): https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_M%C3%A9tromanie (French Wikipedia).
The Script (in French): http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Alexis Piro (French playwright, 1689-1773): https://www.britannica.com/biography/Alexis-Piron (Encyclopædia Britannica) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexis_Piron (Wikipedia).
The Metromaniacs (2018 Off-Broadway comedy): https://www.redbulltheater.com/the-metromaniacs (official website), https://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=5252 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.), and http://iobdb.com/Production/6514 (Internet Off-Broadway Database).
The Script: https://www.dramatists.com/previews/5252.pdf (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.).
David Ives (playwright): https://groveatlantic.com/author/david-ives/ (Grove Atlantic), http://iobdb.com/CreditableEntity/4118 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/david-ives-9621 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0412328/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Ives (Wikipedia).
David Henderson (Raleigh, NC co-director and founder and co-artistic director of Honest Pint Theatre Company): https://www.honestpinttheatre.org/copy-of-our-mission (Honest Pint bio), https://www.facebook.com/theatrescot (Facebook page), and https://twitter.com/theatrescot (Twitter page).
Susannah Hough (Raleigh, NC co-director and co-artistic director of Honest Pint Theatre Company): http://www.susannahhough.com/ (official website), https://www.honestpinttheatre.org/copy-of-our-mission (Honest Pint bio), https://www.facebook.com/susannahhough (Facebook page), and https://twitter.com/susannahhough (Twitter page).
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