Theater archives

Under the Gaslight Revives Antiquated Slapstick


Metropolitan Playhouse’s latest revival, Under the Gaslight, brings the 1867 classic to New York City theaters for the first time in 25 years. Set in New York, Augustin Daly’s play follows the beautiful society lady Laura Courtland (Amanda Jones), who is set to marry the respected Captain Ray Trafford (Justin Flagg)—until secrets from her childhood force her from high society’s gossipy ring. Rejected, Laura runs away to a tenement basement, but is pursued by Byke (J.M. McDonough), the villainous man from her past.

In this crowded basement, Laura meets Peachblossom (Lian-Marie Holmes), a spunky girl coincidently hiding from Byke’s partner-in-crime, and Bermudas (Jason Rosoff), an energetic kid who aspires to be a famous boxer. Nineteenth-century melodrama ensues, greatly leavened by Brad Fraizer as Snorkey, a one-armed Civil War vet. Snorkey’s dim-witted yet heroic efforts to help Laura eventually lead him to be tied down on some train tracks, a scene that caused much excitement when originally produced. Holmes and Rosoff milk the wackiness of their characters, while Fraizer rouses laughs with each line.

Director Michael Hardart—aided by Ralph Petrarca’s enchanting on-stage piano playing—successfully revamps Under the Gaslight‘s antiquated slapstick, happily propelling the play into our 21st century.