April Foolery

Been Having a Cruelest Month? Try Running Away.

Molly Ringwald in Enchanted April: triumph of the villa
photo: Carol Rosegg
Molly Ringwald in Enchanted April: triumph of the villa

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Enchanted April
By Matthew Barber,
based on the novel by Elizabeth von Arnim
Belasco Theatre
111 44th Street
212-239-6200

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The most annoying part of Barber's taking so long to arrive in Italy is that you yourself only get half an evening to stare at Tony Straiges's truly charming set, which, drenched in yellow light by Rui Rita, makes the crumbling castello look like a giant floral-pattern stationery box. Against this festive backdrop, Jess Goldstein's costumes smartly aim to match the characters' psychology, rather than offering the knock-your-eyes-out fashion parade for which this kind of ladies' play always used to be a pretext. All in all, once you've noted that Enchanted April does not impinge on dramatic art in any particular way, there's really nothing about it to object to. The only question, in this millennium, is whether there are still any ladies left to see it. "Elizabeth" 's books, having been produced for an audience that existed in her time, belong to women's history. But the plays women were writing then, next to Enchanted April, would seem scarily avant-garde; don't look for a Broadway staging of Alan's Wifeor The Verge anytime soon.

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