Sir Wilfred Grenfell College’s theatre program presents a modern-day production of the wickedly funny Restoration Era comedy The Man of Mode by George Etheridge, March 17-20.
Award-winning director Michael Waller has set the play in modern-day London with a Restoration twist. The set costumes and music will reflect a mix of the modern day and the restoration eras.
The Man of Mode has two central figures. The first is Dorimant, an unrepentant rake, who over the course of the play juggles three women: Mrs. Loveit, his former mistress of whom he has grown tired; Bellinda, his current fling, who is concerned that things are not yet sufficiently over with Mrs. Loveit; and Harriet, the rich country girl, obsessed with Dorimant but not interested in showing her affection for him until he can publicly disavow all of his vices. Dorimant, an anti-hero, vain, callous and cruel, thinks he can have all three women. For a while it looks as if he’ll succeed. In the end, he and Harriet commit themselves to each other but not without some delicious ambiguity.
The second central figure is Sir Fopling Flutter, a fop, solely concerned with himself, his physical appearance and what the rest of the world thinks of him. A legend in his own mind, Sir Fopling is a typical restoration fop, obsessively concerned with outward appearance. He is an Englishman, who has recently returned from a visit in France and has decided to take on the language, fashion and look of that culture. He is flamboyant, fun and hilarious: a fool – but a loveable fool – to be pitied as much as to be mocked.
“In Restoration Theatre, the fops and the rakes were stock characters, to be found in nearly every comedy, but Etheridge has managed to make these two wonderful characters three-dimensional and fascinating,” said Waller.
Ultimately, The Man of Mode shines because of the female characters: sexy, wild, strong, witty and powerful, the women in the play are a sight to behold. The Restoration Period was the first in England to actually allow real women on stage. The playwrights of the time – Etheridge included – wrote some of the greatest female characters to ever grace the stage.
Setting the play in modern-day London allows the opportunity to contrast the materialistic obsessions of our day with those of Restoration Era England.
“The play shows a fast-paced world filled with sex and glamour, which eerily parallels that of the restoration,” said Waller. “Setting the play in our era makes it very clear that people really haven’t changed much over the centuries. It also lets us observe current fashions in clothing, music and behaviour through a very interesting filter: one of another time.”
As with most Restoration comedies, The Man of Mode is concerned with the “rituals of courtship.” That said, while there is no nudity in the show, the play deals very frankly with sexuality. The production is fast-paced, elegant and fun.
Carol Nelson is costume designer and Renate Pohl is light and set designer.
The Man of Mode plays nightly at 8 p.m. in the Fine Arts Theatre, March 17-20. Tickets are available at the college bookstore or at the box office on the evening of each performance. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. For more information call 637-6223.
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